n South African Journal of Education - An investigation into the basic safety and security status of schools' physical environments




Safety at schools is beginning to receive attention in South Africa as articulated in various media reports. Schools as sites of teaching and learning can deliver their educational mandate only in safe and secure conditions, free from injuries, crime, and violence. Basic school safety and security features are therefore essential at schools. I argue for the safety and security of the school's physical environment as a sine qua non and a starting point for overall school safety. Because reported incidents of injuries, crime, and violence seem most prevalent in township schools, I investigated the safety status of their physical environments. This was done through the phenomenological observation of their physical environments. It was found that school environments displayed some measure of basic safety, though there was a need to focus more on features like ensuring proper maintenance and surveillance systems, as well as on functional safety and security systems and procedures. An important finding related to the lack of conscious efforts aimed at creating safe and secure environments. It is recommended that schools focus on the basic safety and security of their physical environments, inter alia, purposefully planned school-based maintenance, surveillance and collaboration with stakeholders, including outside agencies like law -enforcement.


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