Thu Dec 08 16:24:00 SAST 2016

This is not a police state - cops are not truant officers

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-02-14 00:33:35.0

The Times Editorial: Arriving late for school is disruptive and wastes the time available for children to learn. But to use intimidatory tactics by threatening to involve the police in the enforcement of punctuality is not the way to persuade children and teachers to come to school on time nor to convince anyone to take education seriously..

Yesterday, Gauteng education MEC Barbara Creecy was at Lavela Secondary School, in Zola North, Soweto, where she witnessed about 700 pupils and a number of teachers strolling through the gates well after the first bell had rung. One of the teachers and most of the children reportedly said they had overslept.

An infuriated Creecy told the latecomers: "I want you to be here at school at 7.45am at the latest. If you want to get to school on time, set the alarm clock for 5.30am. Your job is to come to school and pass."

She also said that if anyone arrived late for school from today they would be taken to the Jabulani police station.

This tardiness is an indication of alack of respect for the school and education system. It also indicates that there is a breakdown in relations between parents, pupils and school management. But it is not the role of the law-enforcement agencies to ensure that children arrive at school on time.

Lorenzo Wakefield, a researcher at the Community Law Centre at the University of Western Cape, said: "You cannot just decide to round up children and take them to the police station unless you are either going to charge them with an offence or they are in need of care and protection."

Instead of involving the police, schools need to be in control. Principals must find out why children are arriving late. Is there a lack of parental concern? Is transport an issue?

Principals need to work with parents in the best interest of the children. The importance of punctuality and the education of their children has to be conveyed clearly, firmly and effectively to all involved.

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