School safety summit declaration

BIRCHWOOD HOTEL, BENONI, GAUTENG, 9 DECEMBER 2015 CONVENED BY THE NATIONAL EDUCATION COLLABORATION TRUST (NECT)

We, the delegates to this National School Safety Summit, representing learners, teachers, school principals, school governing bodies, business, development partners, labour, faith-based organisations, universities and education departments, acknowledge that school violence in South Africa remains unacceptably high.

We are aware that:

  1. Violence in all forms, including school and gender-based violence, has its roots in our legacy of colonialism and apartheid, as well as our current socio-economic challenges, including extreme inequality and often discriminatory cultural practices and gender norms;
  2. communities with high neighbourhood crime and violence experience higher levels of school violence;
  3. safety, security and non-violence are critical requirements to the achievement of improved educational outcomes and integral to our vision for quality basic education and the creation of a non-violent society; and
  4. disruption of learning and teaching by communities have significant negative effects on learner progression and achievement and far reaching long term effects on the development in the specific communities and the future of our country.

 

We commit ourselves to work together to build peace, security and respect for our foundational constitutional values of human dignity, equality and freedom in all our schools and school communities.

We further commit ourselves that:

  1. we shall work towards building a values-driven culture that promotes non-violence and respect for fundamental human rights in all our schools thereby strengthening relationships between learners, teachers, parents and communities;

 

  1. we shall build transparency and trust within schools, with safety seen as a shared and common good;

 

  1. as teachers and teacher unions we reiterate our commitment to eradicate corporal punishment from all our schools and to work towards building a culture of positive discipline, including reinforcing the fact that corporal punishment is outlawed and that the practice, in whatever form, will not be tolerated;

 

  1. school governing bodies, principals, teachers, parents and government authorities will ensure that learners learn without fear, including ensuring that all schools are free from physical punishment, bullying and all forms of abuse, and sexual abuse;

 

  1. as learners we commit to respecting our teachers and to refrain from retaliating violently;

 

  1. as teachers and learners we also commit to ensure that all teachers and learners understand that verbal, physical and sexual abuse of teachers and learners will not be tolerated;

 

  1. the available mechanisms will be strengthened to ensure that teachers, learners and parents participate more effectively in identifying safety concerns and developing measures to enhance safety;

 

  1. as education authorities we commit to provide support to teachers and schools to improve classroom management, as well as behaviour management practices in the school community;

 

  1. as education authorities we commit to provide support and training to school management and governance to build accountable management practices to ensure that teachers are in class, managing classes, overseeing learners and are held accountable where this does not happen; and

 

  1.  we shall work together to build parental and community support and partnerships to eradicate violence and abuse in and around all our schools. Communities must commit to protect schools as learning spaces and to refrain from disrupting learning and teaching for any reason such as service delivery dissatisfaction and local politics.

 

This Declaration binds all stakeholders present here today to work together to build peace, stability and security in and around all our educational institutions. It also lays the basis for the development of a roadmap for future action involving the various stakeholders to build a culture of peace and non-violence in all our schools to enable effective learning and teaching.

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