No place for 'space cakes' in our schools
Earlier this week, we reported on education authorities issuing a warning against “space cakes” after 15 pupils fell ill and had to be hospitalised.
The cakes containing dagga or other unsafe substances are baked by pupils who then sell them to their mates, as an emerging trend in Gauteng schools.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he was “concerned with the ongoing trend of learners consuming 'space cake'” after 11 matriculants at Randfontein High School fell ill and were hospitalised on Thursday.
Four grade 12 pupils from Mamellong Secondary School in Ekurhuleni were said to have bought cookies on their way to class on Saturday, became sick and were also taken to hospital.
The pupil accused of selling the cookies at Randfontein High School has been suspended. We welcome that as it sends a clear message that there are consequences for such conduct in schools.
However, some of the parents whose 11 children became sick were angry and accused the school of being slow in conducting a probe into the incident. They wanted to know how the cakes were sold despite the school policy prohibiting sales on its premises.
That is a good question as teachers should have picked up on the activity and stopped it. The seller cannot face the music alone; whoever failed to enforce the policy when it took place, whether in class or on the playground, must be held accountable.
The sale of any products containing drugs cannot be tolerated in our schools that are supposed to be drug-free zones, so authorities are correct to be alarmed.
Substances disguised as harmless, sweet cookies being sold at schools will make drug use by pupils worse than it is now. The SA Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use report released in 2017 showed that substance abuse was rife among our country's youth and it was spiralling.
The report said the average age for trying out drugs in SA was 12 and the age of patients being treated for addiction was from nine to 82 years in Gauteng.
Experts also cited drug use as one of the contributing factors to escalating violence in schools, another serious problem in SA. We reported late last year that seven children were killed by fellow pupils in schools in 2021.
We call on parents, teachers and police to work together in containing the “space cake” trend as it crops up to protect our kids.
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