Resorting to the rod ‘rooted in apartheid’
● SA’s culture of violence is fuelling attacks by pupils on teachers and making some teachers resort to the outlawed cane.
This was among concerns that emerged at a three-day discussion hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s school of education this week. Parents, teachers, principals and academics spoke about corporal punishment and violence against teachers.
SA Council of Educators spokesperson Thembinkosi Ndhlovu told the Sunday Times the council had been notified of 253 cases of corporal punishment for 2017/2018.
Ndhlovu said that recently a Limpopo teacher has been charged for using corporal punishment and that the pupil suffered severe injuries and had needed surgery.
The discussion was held to create a “nonconfrontational space to share experiences and perspectives about corporal punishment” and speak about school violence.
“Institutions of learning have neither been exempt nor escaped violent expressions and, worryingly, are perceived as reflecting a social order where violence is normalised.
“Twenty-one years after the banning of corporal punishment, physical violence cannot be used to discipline pupils,” the department of education said in a statement.
Ndabenhle Mdluli, a high school principal, said that while corporal punishment had been outlawed in 1996 “what is troubling is that corporal punishment has refused to leave the classroom for more than two decades”.
“A 2015 Statistics SA survey revealed that KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape schools topped the list at 21% each, for children who attended schools where they still experienced corporal punishment. Why do we have such shocking statistics?”
Mdluli believes corporal punishment is rooted in apartheid.
“Sometimes statements are made which carry racial undertones. Such as ‘you can’t teach a black child without using corporal punishment’.
“This is because we have accepted violence as the lifeblood of our society. Some believe that corporal punishment still belongs in the classroom and that it should be used as a last resort,” he said.
While corporal punishment was the main thread of the discussion, the issue of teachers being victims of attacks, both verbal and physical, also came under the spotlight.
A teacher, Terence Poovan, who was a victim of threats from a troublesome pupil, said violence against teachers “has received limited attention”.
Poovan quoted a recent research study that found about 25% of teachers in high schools had been exposed to physical attacks, including objects thrown at them, and physical confrontations.
“The research also indicates that one in four teachers are afraid of violence at the hands of pupils,” Poovan said.
Poovan believes that at the heart of the issue is the prevalence of violence in communities and young people having lost respect for adults and authority.
This is because we have accepted violence as the lifeblood of our society
Ndabenhle Mdluli High school principal