School chaos risks pupils’ futures

2015-03-07 00:00

PARENTS and teachers should carefully watch their behaviour because young pupils are at a vulnerable stage where they copy adult behaviour — whether good or bad.

Education experts, observing the unruly behaviour at a primary school in Pietermaritzburg, said what is happening there offers a snapshot of the issues experienced by the education system in the province.

Teachers at Bisley Primary claim things have spiralled out of control with children running rampant from class to class during lesson time and ignoring teachers’ orders.

They became the centre of a micropolitical struggle about three months ago when a report against four teachers, including the principal Segren Pillay, was handed over to the Education Department, containing allegations of corporal punishment.

Parents and teachers suspect the current acting principal, Vusi Khanyile, of submitting the report, which led to the four being suspended in December last year amid protests by both parents and pupils.

It is this suspension and Khanyile’s temporary appointment that sparked several subsequent protests and disruptions at the school.

Now the pupils have been dragged into the conflict, which led to a disruption of normal classes and is affecting lessons.

The unruly behaviour now being displayed by the pupils is very worrying, though not unexpected, experts said.

A Bisley teacher who would not be named said everything was utter chaos and the children no longer listened to, or respected the teachers.

He said the children jeered and stamped their feet at Khanyile when he pronounced a word wrong during assembly yesterday morning and would often run out of classes while they were in session.

“As children approach primary school, they enter the copying phase,” University of KwaZulu-Natal education specialist Professor Wayne Hugo said.

“For primary school children to behave like this, it could be that they are following the behaviour of their superiors and those they learn from.

“For this to happen at such a young age, structures are laid down later on in life. Right now they are in the ‘copying phase’ and will copy and replicate the behaviour they see around them.

“The two most important groups these children look up to are the parents and the teachers, who might be showing conflict-type responses to the situation at Bisley.”

Hugo said he was not blaming the parents or teachers for children’s behaviour as he imagined they were only worried about the children and who would be teaching them in the suspended teachers’ places.

“The system is generating a lack of trust and as it deteriorates, conflict plays out among the community and leaves behind a decaying education structure."

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