On the Sale and Use of Booze at WCED Schools.

The following extract is from a People’s Post article distributed in Lotus River (Cape Flats) and it expresses the concerns of a school principal about a nearby shop owner’s application for a liquor licence. The parent body as well as the wider community objected to this out of concern for community safety.

The concerns expressed in the extract above are valid concerns. According to Leana Oliver (FARR), Foetal Alcohol is “several times higher than elsewhere in the world”. Western Cape Government also published the following brief in 2016:

35.2% of Western Cape learners in grades 8–11 binge drink — more than any other province.
7–10% of our GDP or R165–236 billion is the estimated loss to South Africa’s economy due to alcohol-related harms.
70% of crimes in our communities are linked to substance abuse.
67% of domestic violence in our communities is alcohol related.
70% of trauma victims in our hospitals test positive for alcohol.
18%-26% of grade 1 learners in certain high-risk communities showed signs of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

It is within this context that the 80 pg. Green Paper “Western Cape Alcohol-Related Harms Reduction Policy” was produced, with the aims of stricter regulations concerning the distribution of alcohol in order to reduce the harmful affects of alcohol in the Western Cape.

Additionally, The Regulations Relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure (2013) Section 7 reads as follows: The following principles apply in respect of the geographic location of a new school:

where practicable, a school may not be located close to, or adjacent to…
(i) cemeteries (ii) business centers; (iii) railway stations; (iv) taxi tanks; (v) sewage treatment plants; (vi) public hostels; (vii) busy roads, unless adequate preventative measures have been taken to ensure the safety of learners; and (viii) bottle stores and shebeens.

Despite the spirit of the law expressed in this hard fought for set of norms and standards, which advocates for the safety and protection of learners, WCED has pressed forward with passing a bill which will allow for the sale of alcohol on school premises in order to generate revenue for schools. The new bill flies in the face of any efforts towards harm reduction, and counteracts any number of digital billboards promoting a booze-free road culture (as presently being promoted on WC roads).

It seems that MEC Debbie Schafer and the WCED are more concerned about income generation for schools than the safety of our learners. The new bill carries great risks as it places the decision-making power with the school SGB and the HOD. Simply put it is a controversial bill that lacks cultural sensitivity and contextual awareness, and it may well lead to negative impacts in communities of the poor in the long run. Additionally, the case against a liquor licence application for a store owner neighbouring a school is weakened when the sale of alcohol is permitted on school premises.

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