Corporal punishment on the rise, says Motshekga

2017-09-15 19:50
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. (GCIS)

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. (GCIS)

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Pretoria - More than half of pupils have experienced corporal punishment during their schooling year, despite it being against the law for more than two decades.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said this was based on "disturbing statistics" that had indicated that corporal punishment was on the rise. 

“Corporal punishment is an issue that has once again raised its ugly head. We have seen extremely disturbing videos emerge on social media of disgusting misconduct by teachers,” said Motshekga during a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday. 

She said the department had had reports from a number of provinces on different forms of corporal punishment.

Taking a beating with a cane

Most recently, a teacher from Umdlamfe Secondary School in Esikhawini‚ Richards Bay was caught on camera beating female students with a cane. 

In the video‚ a girl is heard screaming and crying as she is hit repeatedly with a cane.

The rest of the class watches, while some openly laugh.

The teacher then moves to another female pupil and grabs her. The pupil pushes him and the teacher then lashes out repeatedly at her. The pupil screams and eventually manages to leave the classroom crying.

The teacher has since been suspended. 

Challenged by violence

“South African schools are currently challenged by violence and disciplinary issues and these challenges include disrespect, absenteeism, late coming, neglect of school work, stealing, fighting, drug trafficking and initiation practices are not limited to learners alone,”  said Motshekga.

She said a protocol was in place to educate the teachers about how to discipline pupils without resorting to corporal punishment. The Protocol for the Elimination of Corporal Punishment in South African Schools was developed by the department, she said.

It deals with the definitions of what constitutes corporal punishment and includes instances where learners are publicly humiliated by teachers.

It also sets out a minimum set of sentences for those who have been found guilty of a form of corporal punishment.

Alternative discipline techniques

Motshekga said while they were aware that many teachers needed to be trained in alternative discipline techniques, corporal punishment - a manifestation of the violence that is endemic in South African society - should be avoided. 

She added that parents often expect and demand teachers use "mild" forms of corporal punishment, as it is believed to be an important part of teaching children discipline. 

“This practice is prohibited in schools as parents cannot abdicate their responsibility to discipline their children.” 

Motshekga noted that they were currently looking at different ways to curb such issues and have also spoken about a vetting process in hiring teachers. 

She said she was also sickened by reports of sexual abuse within schools, saying she had been made aware of an incident where a principal allegedly invited other teachers to gang rape a learner.

Motshekga said it was shocking, disgusting and it pained her.

Read more on:    angie motshekga  |  education

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