Give security guards 'metal detectors and panic buttons' to keep schools safe: Sadtu
The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in KZN wants security guards in schools to be provided with metal detectors and panic buttons.
Security in schools in the province was one of the main issues discussed by 256 delegates during the union's provincial general council in Durban recently.
Sadtu's provincial general council was held a week after grade 7 Masuku Primary School teacher Sibonakaliso Nyawose was gunned down as he arrived at the Folweni school, south of Durban.
The murder of the maths teacher raised questions about security in schools, with provincial education MEC Kwazi Mshengu telling mourners at Nyawose's funeral that his department needed more funding to deploy more security guards at schools and also to provide fencing for all schools in the province.
Sadtu's provincial secretary, Nomarashiya Caluza, told a media briefing in Durban on Wednesday that the union supported the appointment of 3,267 security guards in schools. However, she said security guards should be properly trained and provided with some tools of the trade to help them do their jobs.
"The provision of security guards doesn't guarantee the safety of teachers and learners. Give them minimum tools, like metal detectors and panic buttons," said Caluza.
She cited a number of examples where KZN teachers had been killed inside school premises despite the presence of security guards.
A deputy principal of Laduma High School in Pietermaritzburg was gunned down in front of her grade 12 pupils during weekend lessons in 2017. In 2015, a teacher and a pupil were killed after a gunman opened fire in a classroom at Luvisi Primary School in Nquthu, northern KwaZulu-Natal.
However, Caluza said Sadtu did not support a call by the Educators Union of SA for teachers to be allowed to bring guns to school to protect themselves in the wake of Nyawose's killing.
"It must clear that as Sadtu we don't support that teachers must carry guns in schools. We're not in military schools and we're not in America. We're in SA, we're in KwaZulu-Natal," she said.
She also revealed that they had received a letter this week from a teacher from Umbumbulu, south-west of Durban, who informed them that he feared for his life. However, she would not divulge more details.
Sadtu, working with the National Association of School Governing Bodies and the Congress of SA Students, will convene a school safety summit on Tuesday to explore how schools can be made safer.
Caluza said they had invited all relevant departments and traditional leaders to deal with the issue of security in schools and to interrogate the draft provincial strategy on school safety.
The provincial education department's multi-pronged plan to fight crime in schools includes working closely with police and school governing bodies.
But Sadtu was critical of the department for devising a strategy on school safety without consulting the union.
"We're a union that subscribes to the slogan 'nothing for/about us without us', because it is always problematic to have people who are not threatened by violence, nor the killing of their colleagues and comrades, having to develop a tool to curb these actions without touching base with those (affected by) bullying, violent crime, including murders of teachers and learners ... ," said Caluza.