Teach preda­tory teach­ers a les­son

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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 havens for ed­u­ca­tion, not places of fear.

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.

South Africa seems to strug­gle to con­tain it and to ban­ish it with our col­lec­tive out­rage.

Le­sufi’s call comes at a time when the 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, though, is not an is­sue that af­fects only teach­ers; last year, 8 700 girl pupils fell preg­nant across the coun­try. Some of them were in pri­mary school.

There are at least three is­sues at play here. One is a moral­ity is­sue in­volv­ing un­der-age pupils; the sec­ond is a brazen­ness on the part of the teach­ers, which sug­gests a lais­sez-faire at­ti­tude to the is­sue by the broader so­ci­ety; and third, by Le­sufi’s own ad­mis­sion, the fact that far too many peo­ple are put in charge of our class­rooms who, be­cause of prior mis­con­duct, have no place be­ing there.

Teach­ers should be vet­ted, and teach­ers’ unions need to en­cour­age this for their own good as well as for the in­tegrity of their pro­fes­sion.

Our teach­ers should be the best avail­able to ed­u­cate from ex­am­ple as well as knowl­edge, so that they can in­stil the val­ues we dearly need in the next gen­er­a­tion: the pur­suit of ex­cel­lence through dis­ci­pline, tem­per­ance and ab­sti­nence.

We shouldn’t be al­low­ing preda­tors free rein.

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