VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS â€“ QUESTIONS
What does one say to learners who see adults destroying government property and looting shops during a service delivery protest in Bekkersdal? What does one say to learners whose schools are closed by adults in the community during a service delivery protest in Kuruman? What does one say to teachers who are humiliated by learners in the class? How does one respond to a principal of a primary school in Cape Town when he writes:
â€œ. . . our work environment resembles a war-zone where learners cannot learn and play in safety and the wider community are hostages in their own homes. . . We cannot have fundraisers, meetings or workshops in the evenings or over week-ends due to the instability and insecurity. The above challenges become bizarre in the light of the on-going gang related violence and deaths.
Last week learners witnessed a man being shot through the ankle . . .Parents running to the school wide eyed and anxiously praying that their children are not harmed. Bambanani having to fall to the ground and seek cover underneath the cars in the car park . . . â€œ
NAPTOSA recognises that the situation described above is an extreme example of violence and that the levels of violence varies from school to school owing to a number of factors.
Who is to blame? At one stage it was popular for the media and others to blame schools for not preventing the violence, however, it would appear that a more realistic approach prevails presently - society has realised that the scourge of violence takes many forms and teachers are not equipped to handle all these situations. It is also important to note that teachers are also victims of violence.
NAPTOSA believes that the critical question that should be asked is: â€œWhat can we do to stop or at least curb the violence? The â€œweâ€ is all of us â€“ the DBE, provincial education departments, other government departments, SAPS, SGBs, NGO, faith-based organisations, parents, schools and unions. NAPTOSA has stated on a number of occasions that all stakeholders need to be involved in addressing the scourge of violence in our schools â€“ dealing with violence in schools, in whatever form it manifests itself, is not the sole responsibility of teachers.
NAPTOSA is of the view that there are many issues which the DBE should address as a matter of urgency, inter alia: provincial education departments should appoint more counsellors and psychologists, the code of conduct for learners as well as suspension procedures in SASA should be revisited, the suspension and expulsion of learners should be expedited, teachers in identified schools should receive danger pay, teachers should be provided with training on managing various forms of violence, the DBE should provide more support for educators who are the victims of violence including free legal assistance.
NAPTOSA has for many years run workshops on discipline for beginner and experienced teachers. The Union will continue to offer this service to its members and adapt the workshops according to the changing situation on the ground.
NAPTOSA welcomes the fact that the MEC for Education in Gauteng is taking strong action against unruly learners. It is hoped that other MECs will follow suit.
Refer to the article on School Violence on the home page. The article provides links to research reports and Internet articles.