10 teachers struck off register

2015-04-29 16:04
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pretoria - Ten school teachers were struck off the registered teachers' roll this year, mostly because of sexual offences against pupils, the SA Council of Educators said on Wednesday.

"Most of the teachers struck off indefinitely are teachers who have had physical relationships with a learner," said SACE CEO Rej Brijraj.

"The council is getting very hard on this. Even if the learner is of age, there was consent or a marriage proposal, the council is clear that teachers cannot have a relationship with a learner," he said.

The council received almost 700 complaints regarding violation of SACE's code of ethics by teachers for the year 2014/15.

About 650 of the complaints were processed, and of those complaints 252 were for corporal punishment and 235 for racism, and unprofessional conduct, and around 85 for sexual abuse.

Complaints of racism

The council, which registered around 29 000 teachers this year, also investigated schools where complaints were received regarding “selling of promotion posts”. 

So far, investigations have not produced evidence or witnesses that would enable SACE to prosecute cases against educators for dishonest practices regarding examinations. However some teachers are being followed up for other misdemeanours.

The council has agreed to appoint full-time investigators and to increase the number of suitably qualified panelists to conclude cases speedily.

Brijraj said there was a growing number of complaints of racism lodged against teachers, but because it was sometimes subtle, it was difficult to find evidence to take the case further.

Sometimes children in minority groups ''bunched up'' against a teacher, but again, the evidence was difficult to find.

"We are calling on the school principals to be mindful of active integration in their schools," said Brijraj.

'Serial lovers'

He said some cases against teachers were withdrawn because the child, or parents, or witnesses changed their minds and refused to testify.

Sometimes, money was even offered to withdraw a complaint.

"We are appealing to our parents not to withdraw the cases after you find the accused finds favour by making promises and offering financial rewards," said Brijraj.

"Teachers make promises of marriage and give families financial compensation. Some parents are very poor."

Offers of money, especially from teachers who were "serial lovers", were most prevalent in the sexual abuse complaints the council received.

Corporal punishment

Other mechanisms for dealing with the complaints referred to them included referring criminal matters to the police.

He also expressed concern over corporal punishment complaints.

"We have a problem. Although we find the departments and lawyers issue booklets, and alternate methods of punishment, I think teachers are being stressed and taking out their frustrations out on learners."

He wanted teachers to focus on professional development.

"A lot of the misdemeanors come about because they are not empowered in terms of discipline and having the right value. We feel we need to advertise that all teachers up to principal level must engage in ongoing teacher development."

He urged teachers to accumulate their 150 points in the Continuing Professional Teacher Development system. All teachers must accumulate these points in a three-year-cycle.

The council also made a stand against xenophobia.

"As President of Aftra [The African Forum of Teacher Regulatory Authorities], which, presently is made up of 14 African countries, I offer SACE’s apology and sympathy to the citizens of those countries that have suffered casualties in the recent spate of xenophobic violence that has bedevilled our land."

About 1 000 foreign nationals are registered with SACE. Of the 29 000 teachers who registered to teach this year in South Africa, about half have received provisional registration so far.

The council said it had made its vetting process and qualification verification process stricter.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  education  |  child abuse

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