#KeepKidsSafe: Protecting learners during school strikes is vital for the future

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

 

#KeepKidsSafe: Protecting learners during school strikes is vital for the future

 

Today, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Sonja Boshoff MP, and DA KZN Spokesperson on Education, Dr Rishigen Viranna MPL, attended the second of a series of hearings on whether a minimum service level should be declared for school staff.

Dr Viranna made a submission to the Essential Services Committee (ESC), arguing that a minimum service level must be established at schools so that children are not left unattended during strikes or union meetings.

It is vital that there is a minimum presence of school staff during strike action, which takes place during school hours, to ensure that learners do not fall victim to any harm.

Earlier this year, hundreds of Grade R teachers from across KZN went on strike and a teacher admitted that children had been left unattended. Risks to child safety can be reduced with adult supervision at schools.

Our request to the ESC on setting a minimum service level is based on three main concerns:

  • Leadership and safety: The presence of senior school staff is vital in ensuring communication with emergency services or other authorities in instances that threaten learner safety and during union meetings or strikes.
  • Supervision: The presence of senior staff members will protect children from crime and violence, which has increased across the country.
  • Nutrition, health and hygiene: Learners who suffer from chronic illnesses and have specific health requirements will benefit from senior staff members always being around to take care of them. School staff also have a responsibility to ensure that learners have access to clean facilities and food.

Establishing a minimum service level for school staff will allow learners the freedom of learning in a safe environment. If children are not safe at school, their chances of achieving academically and securing future jobs are sabotaged.

The DA hopes that our submissions will help secure their safety. We trust that the ESC will favourably consider our submission today in the interests of our children.

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