Many teachers’ unions and civil society groups have expressed concern over amendments to the Western Cape Provincial School Education Bill that will allow alcohol to be sold on school premises. In a province grappling with high alcohol abuse rates, those against the amendments have voiced concerns that government did not properly consult with groups working on the ground.
“The amended bill sends the message that the education department condones the consumption of alcohol. It disregards the harm to children that inebriated adults can have,” says Judy Strickland, the founder of non-profit organisation Hope House, which runs substance abuse prevention and intervention programmes in schools across Cape Town.
“Associating alcohol with socialising, functions and fundraising in schools is problematic”,” says Strickland. “Where children and alcohol are together, children are at risk. That’s why children are not allowed in bars and pubs.”
Many of the communities that have voiced their concerns the loudest are those where children are most at risk. “While there are conditions to monitor schools’ making alcohol available, it is not logistically possible to prevent the many potential negative outcomes of such a bill,” says Strickland.
Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:
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On behalf of Hope House:
Director: Judy Strickland