Media release: Garden Route District hosts its 2nd Safer Schools Conference
For Immediate Release
23 March 2023
On March 18, 2023, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) hosted the second Safer School Conference in Plettenberg Bay in collaboration with 7 b-municipalities, the Western Cape Department of Community Safety, and the South African Police Services (SAPS) and several school representatives – including learners and principals. There were also a few community organisations present, such as neighbourhood watches and community policing forums.
During the Safer School Conference, the hall was packed with delegates.
Safer Schools encompasses a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach, with numerous stakeholders working together to promote school safety and reduce the prevalence of violence. A game-changer objective of the event was to link schools with local police stations in order to raise awareness among children about crime and violence and their impact on individuals, families, and education.. Also, to influence, train, and equip learners, families, teachers, and community members with effective partnership knowledge that will encompass a holistic approach to how the school operates in terms of safety.
The interactive program of the day included addresses from a number of remarkable speakers, including GRDM’s Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen, who once again inspired learners with his own story of growth. The other speakers also conveyed their messages, which included, the impact of substance abuse; crime at school; and gang-related issues, to the audience in an incredibly simple, but informative and understandable manner, encouraging participants to form a coalition with government and community stakeholders and reduce crime.
A speech by former prisoner Micheal Dlamini, who served over forty years in prison, was one of the highlights of the conference. Dlamini urged children to listen to their parents as well as elders in the community when they say NO. Also, they choose their friends wisely. “Gangsterism is not easy, and prisons are not good. Stop disrespecting your teachers – STOP bad habits.”
During the second segment of the program, there was much excitement and it was clear that the topics were something school-goers encountered every day. Five break-away groups were created addressing the following topics:
– Social media impact
– Impact of substance abuse
– Gender-based violence
– Gang-related issues
– Sexual crimes and teenage pregnancies
All the learners present formed part of the different groups and ‘grow-ups’ were amazed by the knowledge, eagerness and confidence they portrayed. Also, the curiosity in asking questions and feedback provided, was also a clear sign that the message reached them and they learned a lot through the conference.
During the closing remarks and vote of thanks, it was evident that partnerships are essential for addressing the topics discussed. Also that the success of this type of program depends on the cooperation of all stakeholders, from the government to sector departments, to communities and their leaders. The importance of parenting also came to the fore, and the organisers were tasked with developing a program that would equip parents with the tools they need to succeed. The group discussions also identified other issues that needed to be addressed in future programmes that arose as shortcomings. In order to ensure the success of the event, the outcomes of the day need to be channeled to the correct people. In conclusion, the audience was reminded that a lot of knowledge was placed in their hands during the event, but that each person has a choice, and it is up to them to do the right thing with it.