SADTU condemns the torching of schools in the North West

3 June 2010

The South African Democratic Teachers Union has expressed shock and disgust at the news of the torching of three schools and two community centres at Tlakgameng Village at Dr Ruth Segomotsi District in the North West province. The schools – Thuso Thebe High School, Seitsang Primary and Shupu Primary schools were allegedly set alight by angry residents as part of service delivery protests demanding the construction of a tar road in the area. Learning has been disrupted in these schools and mid-year examinations have been affected including the matric common paper. SADTU believes there are sinister forces hiding behind service delivery protests to destabilize communities.

SADTU General Secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the incident was a blow to the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign which calls for learners, educators, parents, education officials and communities to play an active role in the education of children. Maluleke said that most township and rural schools have very little or no security measurers in place. He said that more visible policing was needed. However, communities also needed to play their role in ensuring school safety.

Brian Setswambung SADTU North West secretary said it was odd that the community would target schools to express their anger and destroy the only thing that brought hope to the community. “These schools are in a rural and poor area and getting the children educated is the only thing that can bring an end to poverty,” he said.

Setswambung said the attacks were well thought out as the places that were torched were quite strategic. At Thuso Thebe High School, the teachers staff room, library and science laboratory were torched. At Seitsang Primary a computer room with 15 computer, a television set and books were set alight and at Shupu Primary – administration offices and several classrooms were tortured. Setswambung commended the police for their prompt response. However, he said they were not enough to be in each and every school. He said there were fears more schools would be attacked.

Maluleke said school safety and security was a challenge for learners, educators, parents, communities and the department of education.

He commended the Gauteng Department of Education for allocating R40 million in the 2010/11 financial year to promote and introduce school safety and security measures. “We commend the GDE for contributing towards job creation by employing the security guards. We shall monitor the developments so that the jobs created are quality jobs and that no labour is allowed to employ security guards in our schools,” Maluleke said

The initiative will among others; provide an integrated framework and approach to all aspects of school safety and security issues; clearly identify the roles and coordination mechanisms of the various role players from the GDE, Department of Community Safety (and SAPS), Department of Health and Social Development, NGO’s and the private sector; set up a clear structure to implement and monitor the roll out of the strategy at school, departmental and societal level; set out monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, including a call centre to aid communication.

The programme will also see the progressive fencing of the 1066 under-performing schools starting with the highest risk schools in current financial year and getting schools to formulate school-based safety and security policies.

Issued by: SADTU Secretariat