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Focus on safety in schools and universities at African Education Week

06-01-2011 07:49 AM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: African Education Week

African Education Week

African Education Week

The safety of learners, students and staff at South African schools and universities is a growing concern with daily reports of violence, drug abuse, bullying, petty theft, and intimidation by peers. At the annual African Education Week in Johannesburg in July, the education sector will focus on creating a safer and more secure learning environment and also look at technology that is helping to prevent security breaches.

Importance of a plan
The University of Johannesburg’s Director: Protection Services, Roelof Hugo says the theft of cellphones, laptop computers and bags of students remains high at the university. He continues: “a large number of these cases are the result of negligence of the owners and our crime prevention and -awareness programmes reflect the responsibility of everyone to be a part of the security solution. The focus of the university’s Protection Services Division remains on the safety of our students, staff and visitors to the campuses.”

Hugo says the University of Johannesburg has experienced a number of student protests and has developed measures that they consider to be successful: “we make use of security officers, crowd control officers and the SAPS to deal with student protests. It is important to have in place an Emergency Operations Plan and following from that plan, the structures necessary to make decisions on a continuous basis as the situation on the campus develops.”

Technology plays an important part in securing the campus according to Roelof Hugo: “Electronic security equipment and systems are vital to the successful campus protection division. Manpower is expensive and electronic equipment and systems are used as “force multipliers”. To ensure maximum effectiveness, proper planning and management must be in place.”

In emergencies, technology eliminates risks
Elaine O’Gorman, Head of Product Management at Bosch Security, says apart from the violence, drug abuse, bullying and other crimes that South African educational institutions are exposed to, there is the extra threat of unauthorised access to the schools premises by criminals, threatening the well being of teachers and learners.

“Institutes of higher learning face an even bigger problem” says Elaine, “with open access for 24 hours a day to accommodate student needs, sports events, seminars and lectures, with thousands of people moving around vast sites at any one time.” The company has installed a surveillance system at the University of South Africa.

According to Elaine O’Gorman, a comprehensive security system assists educational institutions in their endeavours to care for and protect learners and students. She continues: “the installation of CCTV cameras and access control on the entrances is just the start of a comprehensive solution. In an emergency, this technology eliminates the risks that are sometimes associated with unskilled and untrained safety staff that may panic and create confusion, leading to a life threatening situation. Automatic fire detection and voice evacuation instruct learners in a clear and concise voice to evacuate, while at the same time opening fire doors and monitoring the evacuation via CCTV. “

At other times, says Bosch Security’s Elaine O’Gorman, the system can also be used to broadcast messages, lesson start and end times, and opening and closing of the school. She adds: “CCTV systems can record events such as bag theft, learners lurking in corridors, bullying and vandalism. These recordings can be used for further action against the perpetrators.”

More safety and security experts who are speaking at African Education Week from 7-8 July in Johannesburg:

• Cooperative partnerships for schools – sustaining a working relationship with the community and the police
- Linda Gqomfa, Provincial Commander: Social Crime Prevention, South African Police Service (SAPS)
• Providing safe and protective environments for learners to develop and learn optimally
- Chairman: Nozipho Xulu–Mabumo, Director: School Safety and Enrichment Programmes, Department of Basic Education
• Access control system upgrade and integration case study: the UCT project
- Andy Duncan, Retired Professor & Project Manager, Access Control Refurbishment Project, University of Cape Town
• Access control integration and proactive security and emergency preparedness
- Chairman: Derek Huebsch, Past President, Campus Protection Society of Southern Africa (CAMPROSA) & Head: Protection Services, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

African Education Week
The fifth African Education Week is taking place from 6-8 July in Johannesburg and is the largest education convention and expo on the continent. African Education Week is for anyone who is involved in Education: teachers, principals, curriculum planners, advisors, FET college and university faculty heads, deans, lectures, campus heads and ICT managers, along with suppliers of educational products.

“Bridging the skills gap through quality education for all” is the theme for this year’s event, which will provide a forum for over 1600 attendees from across Africa to discuss the critical issues affecting schools, FET colleges and universities and exchange ideas and solutions.

Event dates and location:
Conference and exhibition: 7-8 July 2011
Pre-conference workshops: 6 July 2011
Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg
Event website: www.educationweek.co.za

African Education Week is part of Clarion Events, the UK's largest independent events company with annual turnover of over £150m, drawing upon over 80 years of experience of hosting strategic conferences conferences and seated events across Britain, Europe, North and South America, Africa, Middle East and Asia. Our events, business-to-business and business-to-consumer, serve 15 different market sectors from leisure and entertainment to finance, from retail to gaming and from fine art to energy.

Communications manager: Annemarie Roodbol
Tel. +27 21 700 3558
Fax. +27 21 700 3501
Mobile: +27 82 562 7844
Email: annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com
Postal address: PO Box 321, Steenburg, Tokai, South Africa

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