‘They’ are actually ‘us’

2018-10-17 06:00
Thapelo Molefi - Social Observer

Thapelo Molefi - Social Observer

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Globally there is a view that schools nowadays are not as safe as expected.

The recent shootings in American schools have shown that schools need to tighten safety systems as far as learners’ and teachers’ safety is concerned.

Back home in South Africa, we also find that violence is on the rise. The shooting of a teacher in front of the learners – that occurred in April at a Western Cape primary school – is one of many incidents that made the country realised how violent our schools are.

Who can forget the many assaults that the learners are enduring at the hands of the teachers?

The South African Council of Educators (SACE) in its 2016-’17 annual report points out that corporal punishment and violence between colleagues in schools, to mention a few, have kept the same trends with a slight increase in these cases.

The report stated that “despite the amount of advocacy having been carried out, it is evident that many educators are still applying corporal punishment and some abuse learners sexually”.

Furthermore, it revealed that the physical assault between teachers has also increased.

Who is to blame for violence in schools?

Violence is not limited to the latter incidents. The emergence of rival gangsters in Free State schools, especially in the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, is a worrying factor.

The so-called BTK and Roman gangs are thriving in the townships in and around Mangaung.

Despite the efforts of the South African Police Service, one can say that until the root cause of violence in schools is found, one will forever be faced with this challenge.

All the stakeholders within the school set-up emanated from different communities. It is these communities that set a tone as far as behaviour is concerned.

At the centre of the debate around school safety is the growing phenomena that South Africa is a violent country. Violence occurring in the communities is a worrying factor. Therefore, one must conclude that the same people who are in a school set-up emanated from such communities.

It would be disingenuous for us as a country to put blame squarely on individuals.

The stabbing to death of a 24-year-old teacher in Zeerust, North West, by a 17-year-old learner – saddening as it is – must be a wake-up call that communities need to take charge in schools. They should not surrender their responsibilities to the School Governing Bodies (SGBs).

What we need in South Africa is a dialogue where we have to remind ourselves that after all these schools are our schools. They are community schools that we need to treasure and protect.

As the community we need to emphasise the importance of family. We also need to elevate the status of family to what it used to be to keep us going in the past.

The notion is that “it takes a village to raise a child”.

We should stop looking at the teachers or learners as those teachers or learners, but look at them as the product of our communities.

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