Parklands High School in Alberton is taking a stand against drugs, after being seen for some years as a school where it was easy to get access to drugs.
Yesterday morning, the school held a special assembly to raise awareness about drugs in the school and ensure that it rids itself of this reputation.
Speaking to The Star on condition of anonymity, a local resident said drugs were a major problem in the neighbourhood and at the school.
“I pity the parents who still send their kids to the school. Many people sell drugs here and some of these kids buy them.
"The best thing to do is to either move the school, or the police must arrest the thugs who sell drugs to the learners."
To help address the problem, the principal, Sheila Naidoo, invited Kabelo Mabalane to warn the learners about the dangers of taking drugs.
Mabalane is a former addict, but managed to kick the habit.
“Kabelo is here (at the assembly) to share his experience with drugs and how he managed to stop.
"It is for our learners to hear it from people like him to make a turnaround in their own lives,” Naidoo said.
They worked closely with the police to raid the school as drugs were a serious problem in and around the school, she said.
“We found dagga on the premises in March," she said. "We regularly have raids at the school, with the help of the police, who come and search the learners.
"Social ills are a problem in this area and there appear to be a lot of drug dealers around.
“One used to live down the road, but we were told that he has been jailed for the next 20 years. We hope it's true."
Naidoo said many parents were unaware of what their children were getting involved in. “We have held many meetings with parents at the school to motivate them. But it's surprising how many don't know what their children are doing.
"Most of them are in denial about their kids taking drugs.We are trying to educate the parents about the symptoms and what this could lead to if neglected,” Naidoo pointed out.
Mabalane, who is celebrating 16 years of being drug-free, appealed to the learners to stay away from drugs.
“If you don't have a purpose in life, whatever gift that God has given you, you will abuse that gift if you get involved in drugs.
"I once abused that gift. I didn’t know the gift and influence that God gave me.
“I am here because I care. I am here to serve,” he said.
Parklands High School president Malatji Mahlakgano said the learners had decided to take it upon themselves to address the issue of drugs in the school.
“Last month, our deputy principal asked me what we were doing as a school to raise awareness about drugs.
"I asked myself, ‘what are we doing’?
"We then met with my team. I'm happy with the turnout today and I'm glad that our deputy principal got the answer,” Mahlakgano said.
Naidoo said the school had obtained an 80% pass rate and that they were aiming for 90%. @