Clear message to pupils to remain in school

Safe Schools field worker, Albert Manuel spent some time with the pupils of Sentinel Primary School following speeches at the roll-out of their Back to School drive.
Safe School field workers talk about the challenges of keeping children in school and the drug dealers who prey on young, impressionable pupils.

The Western Cape Education department visited Sentinel Primary School to complete the roll-out of their 2019 Safe School’s Programme, last Thursday.

In his address to the pupils, Safe Schools field worker Lionel Jackson advised them how to handle themselves when faced with the challenge of going to school.

“The programme is aimed at encouraging the learners to remain in school and we’ve invited various role-players in the community to also speak to the learners.

“What we do is give advice to the school and community on how to assist these learners and keep them safe and in school,” said Mr Jackson.

The Safe Schools programme has been in existence for more than 20 years with the Back to School drive in its 15th year.

Community representative, Michelle Yon, who runs an after-school programme in Hangberg, encouraged the pupils to join her programme where children are helped with their homework and kept busy during the afternoons.

“I always say a busy child is a child out of trouble. That’s why we always ask the children to come to our aftercare programmes and to our art classes on Saturday mornings,” said Ms Yon.

“We have five outings for the children for the year and we want to invite all of them to join us after school to do their homework, to draw and read with us in a safe environment,” she added.

The Back to School drive has also been rolled out in Hanover Park, Manenberg, Kensington and Athlone.

Safe School’s field worker, Albert Manuel, said they want pupils to contact them with any issue that affects their schooling whether it’s a domestic issue, drugs or gangsterism.

“One of the main issues we have with gangsterism is that they encourage the children to stay at home. Then others are asked to
go to school, but are given substances to sell at school.

“That causes a lot of issues at school because you have children who are in fear of their lives because they might have purchased drugs and can’t make payment,” said Mr Manuel.

“We’ve had incidents where merchants at school were threatening other learners in their class which ended up in a scuffle and the one learner got seriously hurt.

“It used to be just in high schools but our primary schools have also become a breeding ground,” he said.

With the first term of the school year already midway through, Mr Manuel said that they would look to return in the third term to address the pupils about truancy again.

Pupils can contact Safe Schools on their toll free number on 0800 45 46 47.