School sex is a scourge

Pretoria News - - OPINION -

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.

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