NW school hostels need safety audit to prevent harm to students

By Dr Tutu Faleni MPL, DA North West Education Spokesperson:

The Democratic Alliance in North West will today write to Education MEC Wendy Matsemela to request she conduct a comprehensive safety inspection of all residential schools and, draft a school hostel safety protocol to be enforced by the Department.

The DA was disturbed at the news of a fire that broke out at Hoër Volkskool in Potchefstroom. School fires are a devastating risk for our young people.

Fortunately, when this dormitory caught fire, the students were in the study hall and could be helped to safety before anyone got injured.

This unfortunate incident comes shortly after a fire claimed three lives and at least fifty learners suffered from injuries and smoke inhalation in Leeudoringstad on 24 August 2015.

In 2010, four boys died when their dormitory at the Christiana School for the Blind caught fire.

The DA demands that the Department of Education conduct a comprehensive inspection of all residential schools in the Province to protect children’s right to safety in the SA School Act and to deliver on the Constitutional protections of education and safety of the person.

The safety inspection should determine whether hostel facilities adhere to safety standards and to determine whether these standards are implemented effectively.

The DA urges the Department of Education to consult with governing bodies and educators at each school to develop safety procedures that are customised to the needs of each school.

The safety needs of these school hostels cannot be addressed by adopting a one size fits all approach.

The DA will also use an opportunity to put questions the MEC Ms Wendy Matsemela in the NW Legislature to urge her department to put mechanisms in place to monitor the implementation of safety procedures to ensure its effectiveness.

It is the DA’s vision to establish safe and appropriate classroom structures for all schools which further contribute to quality education.