The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on Wednesday said a multidimensional response is necessary to curb the worrying increase in the incidence of violence in the basic education sector.
The committee also highlighted the need for continuous initiatives to deal with the matter, rather than reactive intervention.
“We are of the firm view that violence and bullying within schools will not be defeated without the contribution of various role players, as well as a concerted societal commitment towards this goal.
“The Department of Basic Education alone is and will be incapable of resolving this societal problem,” said Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, the chairperson of the committee.
The committee said it recognises that schools, as microcosms of society, are representative of the challenges facing the country.
South Africa is facing unprecedented levels of gender-based violence (GBV) and domestic violence, and the impacts of it are reflective in the violence within schools.
As a result, the committee said that a broader societal recommitment to defeating the scourge of violence is needed.
The committee acknowledged that while the department has good strategies on paper, the implementation thereof is lacking, something that disarms the ability of those strategies to function.
To remedy this, the committee welcomes the intention by the Department of Basic Education to bridge the gap between government and school communities to ensure a collaborative effort to fighting the scourge.
The committee has urged for the improvement of parental involvement and participation in school activities.
The committee said it is cognisant of the challenge of the migrant labour system and its impact on many communities, but has emphasised that parental participation will play a critical role in reducing cases of violence.
Linked to this, the committee welcomed the intention by the department to strengthen school safety committees through training and capacitation of the recently elected school governing bodies (SGBs).
The committee has also emphasised the need for constant monitoring and assessment of the functionality of these school safety committees by district and circuit offices.
The contribution of both the Department of Social Development and South African Police Service is critical in resolving this challenge, Mbinqo-Gigaba said.
“Of importance is to offer psycho-social support for all learners within the sector on the dangers of violence and bullying.
“The committee has thus called for the active participation of the Department of Social Development by making available social workers to work with learners on a continuous basis.”
The committee welcomed the intention to incorporate e-safety guidelines within the curriculum to ensure that the dangers of cyber-bullying are deliberated in a classroom situation to conscientise learners about all aspects of bullying.
Meanwhile, the committee welcomed the progress report of SGB elections, and is hopeful that the newly elected cohort will work collaboratively with the department at all levels to ensure good governance of schools.
The committee also appreciated the assurance that continuous training will be provided to the incoming SGBs to ensure capacity and adherence to regulatory frameworks.
The committee noted the progress made on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill and will await the tabling of the Bill in Parliament where it will be processed.
The committee will make its contribution on the Bill when it has been tabled.