Sadtu, principals to tackle violence in schools

2015-08-05 17:46
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Durban – Domestic violence and a poor upbringing were among the root causes of violence in schools in KwaZulu-Natal, the South African Democratic Union (Sadtu) said on Wednesday.

Sadtu vice president Veronica Hofmeester addressed more than 400 principals at the Durban Jewish Hall at a seminar aimed at addressing school violence.

"Figures from the 2013 National School Violence Study show that 1.46 million learners had been threatened with violence by someone at school, 756 000 learners had been assaulted, 564 000 had been sexually assaulted or raped, and 540 000 had been robbed at school.

"With all these statistics, you find that some teachers and principals still keep quiet," said Hofmeester.

She said violence and discipline were a problem in many schools around the country.

"In Cape Town, parents have to fetch their children from schools when there is violence. Sometimes, as principals, we have to respond to issues that are around our communities.

"In Cape Town one pupil was hit by a stray bullet from gunshots in the community."

'Do not become their internet friend'

Hofmeester said the education landscape had become sophisticated and complex, so much so that teachers had to be careful.

"These days we have pupils on Facebook, WhatsApp and e-mailing during lessons. Learners are in cyberspace, speaking to strangers on a daily basis.

"As educators we need to now teach children how to deal with [issues in] cyberspace.

"Do not become their internet friend," she warned.

She said research showed that violence against teachers had increased.

"Teachers are too scared to report these incidences because they say the principals don’t do anything about it. Some fear losing their jobs, and some of them are too embarrassed to say what happened.

"Why don’t we report when pupils swear at us? Sometimes they don’t come for you, they do something to your car, and they’ll leave a long scratch on your car," said Hofmeester.  

"I’d advise that you don’t keep canes, hosepipes and sticks in your school, because you will be tempted to use it sometimes."

'General lack of parental love'

In KwaZulu-Natal, Sadtu found that one in three primary schools and two in three secondary learners reported that it was easy to get alcohol and drugs in their communities.

"There is also a general lack of parental love and guidance, poor upbringing, domestic and institutionalised violence. In some schools, teachers cannot teach because violence has become normal."

She said teachers didn't know how to handle violence in schools.

"We need psychologists or therapists at the schools to deal with these kids. We could also create special schools for those violent kids."

She also warned principals to remember that they were their pupils' guardians.

"Never be alone in a classroom with a pupil, and never keep one pupil in the room because a pupil is always right, no matter what.

"Never ask learners out and never use corporal punishment on them, because you will be on the wrong side of the law," cautioned Hofmeester.

Most violence takes place in classroom

KwaZulu-Natal education department Deputy Director General Enoch Nzama said: "There is evidence that violence caused instability in schools, and we have witnessed in a number of schools where violence... made it difficult for the principal to deliver."

Nzama said most of the violence in schools took place in the classroom.

"Bullying is experienced by about 10% of our learners and robbery in schools is at 60.2%. That means there is a threat, and we need a strategy.

"Schools are being robbed at such a high rate, I am not sure what to do. Computers, windows, roofs and everything else that we install, get stolen."

Provincial chairperson Phumlani Duma said principals played an important role in society.

"You are an educator, a father, mother, a security guard, and you are everything to those children.

"There was a recent incident in Nquthu where a teacher and a pupil were gunned down in front of pupils. We learnt later that the principal had to sit with the two dead bodies until the authorities came.

"That couldn’t have been easy, but this is because principals hold the highest position in education, but often they swallow insults and are often undermined," said Duma.

Read more on:    sadtu  |  durban  |  education

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