Correctional Services said that “matters are under control” at Johannesburg’s Sun City Prison on Wed.
In a ground-breaking first the Gauteng department of education has linked up with Linvel Risk Management to provide assistance programmes for struggling scholars.
Veli Nkosi, director of Linvel, said: "As a result of the challenges experienced by most learners and parents to access essential and professional services, the department has partnered with us to provide value-added services to address barriers to education."
He said a child who falls behind his peers gradually disconnects from the system and eventually drops out. Many pupils have the ability to succeed, but are unable or unwilling to apply these abilities.
Failure is more likely to occur at transitional stages, such as when graduating from elementary to middle school or after moving to a new school.
"Failing grades are symptoms of emotional, behavioural or learning problems. Pupils who fail may feel 'stupid', but emotional or mental health problems and 'hidden' learning disorders, not low intelligence, often are the root causes of a child's inability to meet standards," Nkosi said.
"Learners at risk need to be identified as early as possible if they are to receive the help they need," he said.
l Personal health advisors will be accessible 24 hours a day to assess symptoms and refer pupils to appropriate centres.
l All the nurses are trained counsellors and the pupils just have to call and give details of circumstances, immediate dangers and conditions;
l In the event of trauma or assault, nurses will arrange for assistance, be it the police or emergency assistance services;
l Nurses will monitor pupils' medical condition.
Nalini Manga, chief education specialist in the GDE's psychological services, said pupils would receive the help they need in complete privacy.
"This is a pilot project that is already running in Ekurhuleni. We are going to evaluate it and see if it cannot be extended to the whole of Gauteng," said Manga.
"Pupils with reading, writing or health problems will get the help they need," she said.