It is with deep despondency that the United Democratic Students’ Movement (UDESMO) heard of yet another act of serious violence at one of our institutions of learning, this time at Forest High School in Johannesburg. There were also reports of two Walter Sisulu University students who were killed at the weekend, at what is known as a “Freshers’ Braai”.
South Africans have been bombarded with stories of severe bullying, sexual predation, violence and murder at our schools and universities just within the past year. It is a sign that something is drastically wrong at our institutions of learning.
We need to understand that institutions of learning are microcosms of the communities in which they are geographically located. If drugs, alcoholism, gangsterism and violence are prevalent in the community, one can be sure that these social ills and criminal elements will reflect in the school environment. At our universities in particular, excessive alcohol abuse at what is colloquially know as “bashes” is rife.
Taking a long-term view, the underlying socio-economic factors that negatively impact on our society should be addressed, which will in turn mirror in our institutions of learning.
To address the immediate crisis, we need an urgent multi-stakeholder engagement to come up with practical solutions on how to keep our young people and teachers safe in our schools and universities. UDESMO believes that there should be closer cooperation between government, communities, institutions of learning and the police services.
Moral decay is really threatening the velocity of our democracy and If nothing happens now, we are running a risk off a lawless nation.
Mr Akhona Bavu
UDESMO Eastern Cape Chairperson