No good can come of school initiation - study

2015-06-12 18:54
Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe, RC Malherbe and Danie Grobler appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's court. (Libuseng Nyaka, AFP)

Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe, RC Malherbe and Danie Grobler appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's court. (Libuseng Nyaka, AFP)

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Bloemfontein - Initiation at schools and school hostels did not build character or loyalty. On the contrary, it was a violation of human dignity and the rights of children, the University of the Free State (FS) said on Thursday.

This was the opinion reached by researchers from the UFS Faculty of Education after an exploratory study of initiation practices in schools.

Although the use of initiation in schools and school hostels was forbidden by the Regulations to Prohibit Initiation Practices in Schools, the study found the practice was still widely evident in schools - with teachers and/or principals participating in some cases.

The UFS was embroiled in controversy when a residency initiation video surfaced in 2010 for which RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler were fined R20 000 each, or 12 months in jail, in July 2009 after pleading guilty to crimen injuria. The sentence was later reduced with Van der Merwe and Malherbe fined R10 000 and Roberts and Grobler R15 000.

At the time, UFS Rector Jonathan Jansen announced a two-day reconciliation programme was planned for the "Reitz Four" students and the UFS workers they had humiliated in a video-taped initiation ceremony.

Jansen also confirmed an out-of-court settlement had been reached in the Equality Court matter the workers instituted against the students and the UFS.

The Equality Court charges relate to the students' humiliation of five black workers in an initiation-type ceremony filmed while living at the university's now-closed Reitz men's residence in 2007.

Last month the university announced it was at the forefront of an effort to criminalise initiation at university.

The new study, under leader Kevin Teise, was limited to schools and school hostels and did not include university initiation, media liaison officer Rene-Jean van der Berg told News24.

Read more on:    ufs  |  bloemfontein  |  education

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