To: The Department of Education

Demand all public schools in South Africa to have school social workers

Many learners in public school face a lot of mental issues due to poverty, emotional, physical and substance abuse. The department of education must make it mandatory for every public school to have a school social worker to provide consultation and training to administrators and school personnel related to the whole child, including behavior and classroom management, mental health, child abuse, and neglect, and other crises.

Why is this important?

South African teens are the most at-risk group when it comes to suicide, according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. A quarter of young South Africans experience depression and anxiety, and up to 20% of high school pupils have tried to take their own lives due to issues such as abuse and poverty. Already the quality of education in public schools is sub standard and most learners come from impoverished backgrounds with a lot of issues that affects them psychologically. Additionally, about 52% of SA teachers are abused by pupils. This shows that pupils require consistent psychological and emotional intervention. The following are reasons why public schools in South Africa should have school social workers:

1.School social workers will help address social, emotional and behavioural barriers to learning to support learners, parents, educators and the school as a community to ensure that learning and development takes place.
2. School Social Workers will bring the family (home), the school and the community perspectives to the multidisciplinary team process to facilitate better understanding of the social context of the learners.
3. School social workers will provide prevention, crisis intervention, networking for resources, restorative justice in disciplinary action with the overall aim of providing care and support to school communities within a multidisciplinary team.
4. School Social workers working will provide services to students to enhance their emotional well-being and improve their academic performance.
5. School social workers will assist in raising awareness in schools and surrounding errors in issues such as crime, violence and the importance of mental heal.

Allocating every school with a social worker in public schools will assist in changing the narrative around issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Teachers and parents will get to understand the child (pupil) more and why they haven't performing well or acting out of character. This will help in discovering suitable learning styles for each pupil and providing them with quality education.