Over 1 500 schools in South Africa had been vandalised by 19 May 2020, according to Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga. In her 4th-COVID 19 Statement she said: “This is truly a disturbing trend that will set us back in our efforts of trying to get back the academic programme.”
Theft from schools has a devastating effect on our children’s education so we need to find solutions, one of them being physical security barriers that stop robbers from getting inside in the first place.
School vandalism in South Africa
In a previous statement of 13 April 2020, the Minister quite rightly said “It is extremely disappointing for criminals, who are part of the community, to randomly destroy the same infrastructure meant to provide decent spaces of learning and teaching meant for our children…The learners from these schools will be the hardest hit as there could be delays in the implementation of the curriculum recovery plan when schools finally reopen.”
Theft from schools destroys school budgets. Items stolen must be replaced, so money spent on this can’t be used on further developing school facilities. Damage to school buildings has the same result. Repairs take budget away from any new resources that had been planned.
It appears that the targeted areas within vandalised schools are most often the rooms where computers and other IT items are stored as well as food storage areas. More recently, it is PPE equipment meant to keep teachers and children safe from COVID-19 that is being stolen.
To make matters worse, during the national lockdown, schools have been burned and damaged, leading to further costs to both the education program as well as in repairs.
Sadly, the criminals are often part of the communities in which these school are located. It is hard to understand how people can do this to the children within their own families and other families in their neighbourhood.
But the scourge remains and has had a distressing effect on vandalised schools trying to restart the academic year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What measures can school governing bodies, parents and other concerned groups take to either prevent theft from happening in the first place or stop it happening again?
Once of the simplest ways is to put physical barriers in the way of the criminals. If they have to break through strong security barriers to get at what they want to steal, they run the risk of being discovered. They may also give up and move onto an easier target.
Of course, security barriers are not enough. Layered security is always recommended for homes, and the same applies to schools. Layers of security are costly, so where budgets are tight it is difficult to pay for several types of security, but if it is manageable, it gives schools a better chance of not being vandalised.
The expertise that Trellidor can share is in barrier security. Trellidor franchises countrywide are skilled in advising on how to protect schools with security gates and burglar guards and suggest the following as a starting point.
Security gates to protect schools
Steel security gates, whether fixed or retractable, come in many different strengths. They range from cheap DIY gates to highly rated designs used in sports stadiums and other high crime risk situations.
Obviously, the stronger the gate the less likely criminals are to get inside the school. The better the gate, the more it will cost, so the idea is to find the gate that will suit the school’s budget and provide an acceptable level of protection against a break-in.
To make the best decision it is wise to call on the advice of security experts. Trellidor franchises offer a free security assessment including recommendations on the most appropriate retractable and fixed security gates for each area of the school.
Find your nearest Trellidor franchise
How to protect classroom and administration building doors
Classrooms and administration buildings with computers, electronics and other expensive equipment should have good quality security gates on any doors that criminals have access to.
If there is not enough money to secure the whole school, then create a ‘safe zone’ where all valuable items are kept and protect just this area with high-quality security gates and burglar proofing.
These gates need to be strong enough to resist an assault and have sturdy locks. The Trellidor range of steel sliding security gates have patented, tamper-proof locks. The gates are designed to withstand a high level of attack.
There is a range of models that range from gates designed for low crime risk areas like internal doors to others designed for extremely high crime risk areas like computer rooms.
These gates should be fitted to all external doors that are exposed to criminals so that they can’t just walk into a classroom or administration office and help themselves to whatever they want.
Another alternative to consider if there is budget for it is a roller shutter. These are extremely strong security barriers that lock-down the room completely. If the budget is limited, roller shutters could be fitted to the IT centre only, keeping the most valuable items safe from robbers.
Roller shutters are also perfect for food storage areas, stationery rooms, sports equipment storage facilities and medical rooms where drugs are kept.
Burglar guards for classroom windows
Windows are a weak point in many schools because sometimes doors are protected with security barriers, but windows are not. This makes them an easy target for criminals to use to get into a classroom or administration office.
There is a range of ideas for Trellidor burglar guards for classroom windows. Here are some to consider:
- Fixed burglar bars that look like sliding or retractable gates but are fixed into the wall around the window. They are fully framed and tough to break through. Like the gates, these burglar bars come in various strengths, so choose the strongest ones possible within the budget.
- Semi-framed burglar guards. These are not as strong as the fully framed ones but do act as a deterrent to thieves that don’t want the extra work of breaking burglar guards and windows to get into the classroom.
- If the budget allows it, take a look at Cottage Guard burglar bars made by Trellidor. They are one of the strongest burglar guards on the market and make any burglar think twice before trying to break in.
- Roller shutters can be fitted to windows as well as doors. They are ideal for computer rooms and other areas where electronics or sensitive information is kept. When fitted to doors and windows, they lock down the room completely.
Read more about the full range of Trellidor security barriers, all of which can be used to protect schools from vandalism during lockdown and beyond.