September 15 2017 – THE Council of Education Ministers (CEM) has approved a protocol to setup uniform standards to deal with teachers guilty of corporal punishment and sexual assault and it will be out for public comment soon, Basic Education Minister Angie Moshekga said on Friday.(today)
“This protocol deals with the definitions of what constitutes corporal punishment, including instances where learners are publicly humiliated by educators,” said Motshekga while briefing journalists from Pretoria.
She said despite it being outlawed 20 years ago, images and videos from social media show corporal punishment is still very much alive in South African school with “disturbing statistics” indicating that more than half of children in schools were still experiencing the phenomenon.
Some provinces had higher rates of corporal punishment than other. The rate of pupils reporting physical punishment by teachers in KwaZulu-Natal was as high as 71 percent while cases in Gauteng had decreased to 34 percent while the Western Cape was as low as 20 percent.
“It [protocol]sets out a minimum set of sentences for those who have been found guilty of a form of corporal punishment. For example is a teacher is found guilty of [assault with the intent to do]grievous bodily harm that is a dismissable offence and teachers who physically harm learners will lose their jobs.”
Motshekga said while the education sector had largely agreed on the new protocol, parents still needed to comment.
“In the meantime the law stands that if a teacher is found to have a relationship with a child, its a dismissable offence. The corporal punishment, it’s a law that its outlawed …”
Teachers would be trained in alternative discipline practices as part of the phasing in of the new protocol.
Motshegka said she was disgusted by news that a principal and two teachers at a school in KwaZulu-Natal had gang raped a pupil.
“My attitude is that of completely disgust, disappointment and pain around this thing.”
Reporting back on a school in Kuruman in the Northern Cape where it was alleged that many girls had fallen pregnant, Motshekga said their probe showed 16 girls having fallen pregnant at the school over a period of three years. Three of the pupils were impregnated by teachers. – ANA