Vi­o­lence the main threat to ed­u­ca­tion

Post - - OPINION - FAROUK ARAIE Benoni

VI­O­LENCE at schools has be­come a global is­sue. It is a sen­si­tive sub­ject that pro­vokes anx­i­ety and it arouses emo­tions that re­quire courage to face it squarely.

To ad­mit to the ex­is­tence of pupil vi­o­lence in schools, tra­di­tion­ally a place of learn­ing and growth, is par­tic­u­larly painful.

As a con­se­quence, vi­o­lence of­ten clips out of the of­fi­cial agenda and pub­lic de­bates on ed­u­ca­tion. Schools are meant to be safe zones, not war zones.

Schools of our past era were imag­ined as havens of quaint cus­tom and be­nign be­hav­iour, in vivid con­trast to the per­cep­tion of to­day’s drug- and vi­o­lence-rid­den hell-holes as teach­ers daily risk their lives and wor­thy chil­dren can­not get an ed­u­ca­tion.

It is in­deed a mon­u­men­tal tragedy that un­ruly schol­ars revel in the pain, dis­as­ter and de­spair of oth­ers.

Pupil vi­o­lence in our schools has reached alarm­ing lev­els. With dagga now be­ing le­galised un­der cer­tain con­di­tions, a new cul­ture of thug­gery will en­velop our ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

There is hardly any is­sue in ed­u­ca­tion that has gen­er­ated more se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion and raised more con­cern and threat in South African schools to­day. The es­ca­lat­ing men­ace of vi­o­lence and drugs in our in­sti­tu­tions of learn­ing is a tick­ing time bomb.

Teach­ing is dif­fer­ent from what it used to be. To­day’s trans­gres­sions in­clude phys­i­cal and ver­bal vi­o­lence, in­ci­vil­ity and, in some schools, sub­stance abuse, rob­bery, as­sault and re­cently mur­der.

The re­sult is that many teach­ers spend an in­or­di­nate amount of time and en­ergy man­ag­ing class­room con­flicts. What is per­haps most alarm­ing is that vi­o­lence is be­com­ing so com­mon­place in many schools that it is con­sid­ered the norm rather than the ex­cep­tion.

Ex­po­sure to vi­o­lence, so graph­i­cally chore­ographed on tele­vi­sion, oblit­er­ate or ob­scure the bound­aries that so­ci­ety has cre­ated be­tween good and evil, pub­lic and pri­vate, and shame and pride.

It is im­per­a­tive that MECs in charge of ed­u­ca­tion re­move vi­o­lent pupils from classes to in­crease the qual­ity and quan­tity of learn­ing for mo­ti­vated and well-be­haved stu­dents.

Schol­ars must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their be­hav­iour by ac­cept­ing the con­se­quences for their ac­tions.

Parental dis­ci­pline of their chil­dren is sadly lack­ing, or non-ex­is­tent. Al­most im­per­cep­ti­bly the term dis­ci­pline has ac­quired neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions in South African par­ent­ing cul­ture.

Par­ents au­to­mat­i­cally as­sume their un­ruly chil­dren are al­ways in­no­cent and their teach­ers are ir­re­spon­si­ble and malev­o­lent agents who are at fault.

Scores of dis­tressed teach­ers are leav­ing the pro­fes­sion, vow­ing never to re­turn.

Should this tragedy con­tinue so­ci­ety will in­herit a gen­er­a­tion of semi-lit­er­ate and un­der-ed­u­cated pupils who will be un­able to com­pete in a world driven by 21st cen­tury tech­nol­ogy.

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