School sex is a scourge
PANYAZA Lesufi, Gauteng’s irrepressible MEC for Education, publicly backed moves this week for the naming and shaming of teachers who prey on their pupils.
It’s a no-brainer, teachers should protect and nurture their charges, not solicit sexual favours from them. Classes should be safe havens for education, not places of fear.
The truth of the matter is that this isn’t always the case.
It’s not a new phenomenon; the scourge of inappropriate relationships within the school grounds has been the stuff of legend for generations across the world, immortalised in film and commemorated in song.
It certainly isn’t a uniquely South African problem. We do, however, seem to struggle to even begin to contain it and to properly banish it with our collective outrage, which is why Lesufi’s backing for the South African College of Educators’ plan to name and shame teachers convicted of sexually abusing pupils is welcome.
Indeed, Lesufi’s call comes at a time when this country is reeling from revelations in the Northern Cape of at least 30 pupils at a single school being impregnated by two teachers and the release of a video purporting to show two KwaZulu-Natal teachers raping a pupil.
Sex at school not only affects teachers; last year 8 700 girl pupils fell pregnant across the country. Some were still at primary school.
There are at least three issues at play here: one is a morality issue involving underage, the second is a brazenness on the part of the teachers, which suggests a laissez-faire attitude to this issue by broader society at large and thirdly, by Lesufi’s own admission, the fact that far too many people are put in charge of our classrooms who should have no place there because of prior misconduct.
Teachers should be vetted, and teachers’ unions need to encourage this for their own good as well as the integrity of their profession.
Our teachers should be the very best available to educate from example as well as knowledge, so that they can properly instil the values we so dearly need in the next generation: the pursuit of excellence through discipline, temperance and abstinence.
We certainly shouldn’t be allowing predators free rein in front of the blackboard.