South Africa Education Department’s Health and Safety requirements for schools
Health and Safety in schools is a factor which is taken extremely seriously by the Department of Basic Education. It is also an apex priority of the department and as result of this, there are various policies as well as measures which have been put in place to ensure the safety of all learners, educators, and relevant stakeholders in schools.
Requirements as indicated by the Department of Education
The Department has reiterated that there is no tolerance towards violence, drug-use and/or abuse, sexual harassment, and any other acts considered criminal, in schools as it poses a substantial barrier to learning.
There is a significant focus on the inculcation of values as well as ethics along with a just and caring society within both schools and communities. The Department views any non-compliance in a serious light as such actions carry the potential of depriving learners of an inherent constitutional right to life, education, equality as well as dignity.
There are numerous interventions which specifically focus on addressing the elements associated with physical infrastructure which includes adequate fencing, alarm systems, and burglar proofing.
It also includes resilience-building programmes for young people as well as the strengthening of partnership with various stakeholders.
There is a solid partnership between the Department and the South African Police Service (SAPS) which focuses on joining schools with local police-stations as well as the establishment of functional School Safety Committees.
Schools are considered critical in the instilling of discipline and ensuring safety. It is for this reason that there is an emphasis on the Codes of Conduct for Learners at all public schools.
This makes schools personally responsible in providing an environment which is conductive in delivering teaching which is of the highest quality and promoting the rights as well as the health and safety of all learners in schools as well as that of teachers and parents.
There is a National School Safety Framework which has been developed and serves as a management tool for both Provincial as well as District Officials who are responsible for health and safety in schools for learners, principals, Senior Management Team Members, SGB Members, and teachers.
This serves the purpose of identifying and managing any risks and threats of violence which exists, or may exist, around schools.
There is also a National Strategy for the Prevention and the Management of alcohol and Drug use amongst learners in schools. Schools tend to mirror the communities around them and by curbing drug use in schools, it may prevent drug use within the communities, rendering them safe for all citizens.
As according to the Regulations for Safety Measures at all Public Schools, overviewed below, the Minister has henceforth declared that all public schools are zones which are drug-free and free of dangerous weapons.
Sexual harassment as well as violence have proven to have a negative impact on learning environments in addition to creating an atmosphere of both fear and aggression.
Learners should not be subjected to such conditions as part of their learning experience. It is for this very reason that the Guidelines for the Prevention and the Management of Sexual Violence and Harassment have been developed and distributed to schools.
This aims to support schools as well as school communities in responding promptly should there be cases of sexual harassment and/or violence against learners. These guidelines clearly set out how public schools should treat any victims of sexual harassment and violence.
They also indicate the steps which must be taken in dealing with such cases and in dealing with those who have, or have allegedly, committed such acts.
Regulations for Safety Measures at Public Schools - Overview
The Regulations for Safety Measures at Public Schools apply to all public schools within South Africa. No public school is exempted from complying with the provisions of any other applicable law. The regulations are also not intended to support any such applicable laws.
The regulations cover a wide array of topics and stipulates the parameters associated with the following:
- The violence and drug free status of all schools.
- Access to public school premises.
- Exemption of certain persons.
- Visits to public schools by public as well as political office bearers.
- Visits to public schools by parents.
- School activities.
- Organisation of a school activity.
- Physical Activities
- Emergency and Fire procedures.
- Early release from school.
- Delegation of powers, and
- General regulations.
The importance of such regulations and why Health and Safety must be managed in schools
It is imperative that health and safety in schools be managed efficiently to provide a healthy and safe environment for learners, teachers, and all visitors.
Health and Safety in schools is paramount, as is health and safety in any other industry or workplace. All members of the school community each have responsibilities where safety, health, and welfare are concerned, for themselves as well as for others.
The school must ensure that staff, students, and visitors understand and acknowledge their responsibilities.
How SafetyWallet helps its subscribers
SafetyWallet caters for employers across all industries, including schools. Although schools are not the conventional idea of a workplace, it is nonetheless a place of work with the staff and learners seen as its employees.
Thus, schools are obligated to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act in addition to other regulations. SafetyWallet offers schools with a subscription which allows them with access to comprehensive solutions and services in effectively managing Health and Safety in schools.
With SafetyWallet, schools are assisted in the provision of a health and safety programme which can be implemented to maintain the necessary and relevant standards. The programme which is implemented also ensures that all employees as well as learners are protected and that they can return home safely after work/school.