Schools must have safety procedures in place: Wale

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Leader of Official Opposition Matthew Wale has said all schools must have procedures in place for safety of children.

Wale made this statement in respond to an incident where a grade one student of St Nicholas school was hospitalised from serious injury this month.

“All schools must have procedures in place to safeguard children. In some instances, accident happens or anything may happen that may out of our control. There must procedures in place to respond to this situation and ensure safety of students,” said Wale.

He said the primary responsibility for safety of all students lies in the principal and teaching staff and auxiliary staff.

“They were the ones to care for the safety of children in the first instance.  In the second instance, the second responsibility lie with education authorities in which they were the ones managing or governing these schools,” the opposition leader said.

Wale said education authorities must pass these procedures or approve these procedures, and to make it clear what is allowed or permitted on campus or within a school premises, and what is not allowed.

“That must be clear. I think it is important that the ministry of education in consultation with the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) education authority do a thorough investigation base on the fact and on establishing how this situation come about,” he said.

Wale furthers the incident must also look on how we look on student safety as well as staff safety on school grounds and school assets and buildings, properties and compasses around the country.

“This must benefit our entire our education system in terms of students and staff safety. But first of all, there needs an investigation to establish the facts of the incident,” Wale said. 

Child safety or child protection means safeguarding children from harm. Harm includes violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.

All organizations should have safeguarding policies and procedures, especially those that work with or come into contact with children. This is to ensure that every child has a right to equal protection from all forms of harm.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which covers different rights of children states that a “child” or “young person” is anyone under the age of 18 years.

Unlike schools, ensuring that children are safeguarded should be a commitment by all organisations to enable children to take part in whatever activity free from all forms of abuse, harassment and exploitation.