#KeepKidsSafe: DA calls on Essential Services Committee to keep learners safe during strikes

Issued by Nomsa Marchesi MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education
11 Jul 2018 in News

Please find attached soundbites in isiXhosa, Sesotho and English by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, and in Afrikaans by DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Sonja Boshoff MP, as well as soundbites from concerned parents here and here. Pictures from the event are attached here, here and here.

Today, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Sonja Boshoff MP, Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and DA Federal Chairperson, Athol Trollip, and DA Shadow MEC for Education in the Eastern Cape, Edmund van Vuuren MPL, attended the first of a series of hearings on whether a minimum service level should be declared for school staff.

DA leaders Sonja Boshoff MP and Edmund van Vuuren MPL both made verbal submissions to the Essential Services Committee (ESC), calling for a minimum staff presence at schools to ensure children are safe during strikes and union meetings.

We trust that the ESC will favourably consider the submissions made by the DA today. DA leaders will travel across the country in coming weeks, making further submissions to the ESC.

Our call for a minimum service level is not intended to stop teachers from striking. However, we firmly believe that learners are entitled to care and protection during school hours.

Our request to the ESC on setting a minimum service level is based on three main concerns:

  • Leadership and safety: The presence of senior school staff is vital in ensuring communication with emergency services or other authorities in instances that threaten learner safety and during union meetings or strikes.
  • Supervision: The presence of senior staff members will protect children from crime and violence, which has increased across the country.
  • Nutrition, health and hygiene: Learners who suffer from chronic illnesses and have specific health requirements will benefit from senior staff members always being around to take care of them. School staff also have a responsibility to ensure that learners have access to clean facilities and food.

It is unfair to keep placing the responsibility of ensuring learner safety on children themselves. Schools should be centres of safety and excellence and abandoning children when there is a strike does not allow for this.

Children need quality education so they have the best chance of finding work, which is already difficult given the fact that 9.5 million South Africans are unemployed.

A safe environment is vital for learning, but this will be hard to achieve when school staff members leave children to fend for themselves to go on strike or attend union meetings. This is why the DA has asked the ESC to look into setting a minimum service level for school staff.