3000 guards to protect pupils, teachers

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Teachers' unions have applauded the department of education in KwaZulu-Natal for taking drastic steps to improve safety at schools.

In recent months, teachers and pupils have come under attack from criminals at several schools.

The provincial department of education announced yesterday that it would employ 3000 security guards over the next few months.

Sipho Nkosi of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) said the union appreciated the decision to deploy security guards at schools .

"The safety of our members have been of great concern to us, especially this year where we have had several incidents of criminals targeting schools and robbing teachers."

Nkosi said that the move would boost the morale of teachers and attract new entrants to the field.

Yesterday education MEC Ina Cronje said the guards would be based at schools and that it would be up to school managements to decide their working hours.

"We would preferably want them - the security guards - to be at schools during school hours, because there is a great need for our teachers and learners to be protected," said Cronje.

She said the poorest of schools in the province would have at least one security guard on the premises.

"The department's long-term plan is to make sure that once all the poorest schools have guards, we will provide the rest of the schools with guards too."

The guards would be paid by the department and would be entitled to benefits that come with being a government employee, said Nathi Ngcobo, the department's human resources chief director.

Allen Thompson of the National Teachers Union (Natu) said though they would support a pro-poor budget, there is no instrument to measure safety, so when it comes to providing safety, the department should treat all the schools in the same way.

"We believe that every school needs to have a security guard, whether it's regarded as quintile one or five," said Thompson.

He said that he believed that a school with 200 pupils should have one security guard and one with 400 pupils two guards.