Hu­mil­i­a­tion led to her months of hell

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - Yolanda Palezweni

Be it an al­leged sin­gle act of vi­o­lence, con­tin­u­ous hu­mil­i­a­tion or other forms of dero­ga­tion by a teacher, the im­pact on a school­child can be dev­as­tat­ing.

Eigh­teen-year-old Boni (not her real name), who is pre­par­ing for her ma­tric ex­ams at a well-known Uiten­hage school, was 16 and in grade 10 two years ago when an in­ci­dent in the class­room was the begin­ning of months of hell.

“I re­mem­ber that day and the months af­ter as if it hap­pened yes­ter­day – how the school­child­ren used to tease me and how

I lost my­self,” she said.

“It was the sec­ond week of the first term, just a few days af­ter my birth­day. I had re­ceived a phone from my par­ents and wanted to show off to my class­mates.”

Boni said the ac­count­ing teacher had walked in and shouted be­cause of the noise which had erupted in class.

“I was blamed for caus­ing the chaos. I had to ad­mit I was wrong, but she [teacher] con­tin­ued to shout at me, ut­ter­ing spite­ful com­ments.”

Boni said dur­ing the les­son, the teacher asked a ques­tion and pointed at her to an­swer, and when she couldn’t, the teacher ridiculed her.

“I ex­plained to her it was my first time do­ing ac­count­ing and I did not un­der­stand yet, but she went on and on about how I would end up be­ing no­body and a bad in­flu­ence.

“I felt small and needed to de­fend my self so I told her that what she thought of me was her prob­lem and when I fully un­der­stood the les­son I would have the an­swers,” she said.

Boni claimed the teacher had got up­set be­cause she had talked back and slapped her.

“I still re­mem­ber the laugh­ter of my class­mates. To save my­self fur­ther em­bar­rass­ment, I went out and cried.”

Boni said the pupil rep­re­sen­ta­tive coun­cil had been in­formed of what hap­pened but when she was called to the prin­ci­pal’s of­fice she had been told to change her be­hav­iour.

“I wanted to tell my par­ents straight af­ter school, but I knew that it would cause drama for me,” she said.

Boni said this was be­cause in her house­hold a per­son who had a qual­i­fi­ca­tion – like a teacher – could never be wrong.

“Be­sides, I was only a 16year-old,” she said.

Boni ex­plained how ev­ery day she had de­vel­oped a ha­tred and at­ti­tude towards school, with the teacher con­tin­u­ing to make fun of her in front of her class­mates.

“It was the first time I stud­ied ac­count­ing and I was ex­cited about it but [the teacher] to­tally crushed my spirit.

“She had a way of mak­ing me feel small. I re­mem­ber how she made me feel in­vis­i­ble in class. When she posed a ques­tion and I raised my hand she would ig­nore me.

“With ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing, I had no choice but to suck it in. What made things worse was lis­ten­ing to a teacher telling you that at the end of the day, they were get­ting paid on the 20th [of the month] – whether we passed or failed didn’t mat­ter.”

Boni said she had started to re­sent the teacher and soon hated all the school’s teach­ing staff.

“All I wanted was that she ac­knowl­edge what she did to me was wrong and apol­o­gise. I longed for her to say ‘I’m sorry’.

“I couldn’t un­der­stand her at­ti­tude towards me. Yes, I was wrong – I con­trib­uted to the noise, I could have kept quiet when she made fun of me. But she was a teacher and an adult. [It was wrong] for her to con­tinue to belit­tle me, make fun of me and de­mor­alise me.

“I would never un­der­stand why she had to slap me . . .

“At school, I was la­belled ‘the one who was slapped’.”

Boni urged the de­part­ment of ed­u­ca­tion to make pro­grammes avail­able for teach­ers to en­gage them on child be­hav­iour at school.

“We can never change that learn­ers have at­ti­tude and of­ten at times mis­be­have, but if there can be pro­grammes for teach­ers to learn how to deal with such be­hav­iour the abuse would be less.”

Boni said many pupils suf­fered in si­lence when they were be­lit­tled in class out of fear of more hu­mil­i­a­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.