February 05 2008 at 07:21PM
SA schools were the most dangerous in the world with only 23 percent of pupils saying they felt safe at school, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Tuesday.
Spokesperson for the Institute, Thomas Blaser, said a Progress in International Reading Literacy study had ranked SA last in terms of school safety.
"In that study South African school pupils were asked whether they felt safe when they were at school and if they had experienced incidents of stealing, bullying, and injury to themselves or to others in their class within the last four weeks.
"Only 23 percent of South African pupils said they felt safe at school. On average South Africa's schools ranked more than 20 percentage points below the world-wide average of 47 percent of pupils saying they felt a high degree of safety in the classroom," said Blaser.
Schools in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were the safest in the world with approximately 70 percent of pupils saying they felt safe at school.
Blaser said: "The findings of the study suggested that media reports of school violence were not merely isolated incidents but part of a growing pattern of violence and disorder."
According to the department of education's own data, published in the SAIRR report, 24 percent of schools had no burglar bars, 35 percent had no security gates, and 80 percent had no alarm systems.
"Conditions in many schools are not only far from ideal but in many cases downright dangerous. The problem deserves urgent attention in parliament and needs a national safety plan that will return proper law and order to the school ground," said Blaser.
"Failing this it is difficult to see how schools will produce the skills necessary to drive the South African economy."
The SAIRR called for urgent government intervention to halt a "growing pattern of violence and disorder" in SA schools, said Blaser. - Sapa