This is according to University of KwaZulu-Natal professor Patrick Lenta‚ who said that teachers were simply disobeying the law – largely because they were unlikely to face sanction. His speciality is in corporal punishment‚ but said the principles apply across all offences.
No matter where you look‚ there are cases of teachers behaving badly.
A 6-year-old was beaten by his teacher with a chalk board duster in the North West. A teenager in Mpumalanga was allegedly assaulted by a teacher so badly that he is now in a wheelchair. In Kimberley‚ a teacher who allegedly impregnated one of his pupils is now being considered as principal at the same school.
According to the South African Council of Educators’ (SACE) latest annual report‚ between April 2015 and March last year‚ there were 593 cases against teachers – down from 869 cases the previous year.
These included 267 reported cases of corporal punishment‚ 97 of sexual misconduct‚ 95 of unprofessional conduct‚ harassment 89‚ theft 40‚ negligence 10 and two of racism.
Despite the seeming improvement‚ the council fears that the situation is worse on the ground – it’s just that people are not reporting it.
The council is now mulling naming and shaming teachers found guilty of misconduct‚ including corporal punishment.
“Council is currently seeking legal advice on publishing names of teachers found guilty of misconduct. All cases are dealt with on their merit‚ however‚ we believe stronger or tougher sanctions need to apply to serve as deterrent‚” said SACE spokesperson Themba Ndlhovu.
He said the council intended to have its own publication in which to publish the teachers’ names.
“We were advised that we need to follow certain steps. We will be advised by our legal team on how to do this‚” Ndlhovu said.
Ndlhovu would not say which of the nine provinces have had more cases of misconduct as some schools do not report such cases.
“It is difficult to say which provinces but‚ by law‚ provinces are expected to report these cases‚ but we are not seeing this‚” he said.
Ndlhovu attributed the rise of the number of corporal punishment cases to a “sharp decline” in discipline in schools.
“However that cannot serve as an excuse since all teachers are aware that it is illegal to administer corporal punishment‚” he said.
Teachers found guilty of misconduct are either struck from the educator’s roll indefinitely or get a fine‚ Ndlhovu said.
“Once we receive a complaint and investigate it and find that a teacher has a case to answer‚ they go through disciplinary processes.”
He said between 2015 and 2016‚ 70 teachers were found guilty. Of those‚ 25 were struck off the roll “indefinitely” for administering corporal punishment.
“We will continue to appeal to teachers to stop corporal punishment because we get these cases everyday‚” Ndlhovu said.
Lenta said teachers were simply disobeying the law – largely because they were unlikely to face sanctions.
“When it comes to corporal punishment‚ my view is‚ first of all‚ that it’s been illegal for 20 years‚ so if teachers don’t know this they are culpably ignorant. They just haven’t been paying attention to the law. The problem is that a lot of parents‚ particularly in rural areas‚ approve of it…so teachers know they can get away with it. In this context‚ I’d be surprised if 10% of cases teachers are subject to disciplinary action. They get away with this kind of stuff.
“As far as teachers trying to get sex out of children is concerned‚ that’s abuse of power. It’s illegal and needs to be dealt with,” Lenta said.
For him‚ the solution was three-fold.
“You have to give them the right training‚ warn them about it‚ and deal harshly with them when it comes to disciplinary cases. We continue to have these cases and teachers continue to ignore the law and morality by going ahead and doing this stuff.”
-TMG Digital/Sunday Times