Newsletter 120 - Violence against teachers


Recently The Cape Argus and other national papers reported various forms of violence against teachers in township schools. Here is a brief summary of these articles.

ATTACKS on teachers and other forms of violence in schools have reached a crisis point and prompted a national union to call for an urgent summit of all stakeholders to address the issue. Naptosa’s Riedwaan Ahmed said: “The stabbing of a school principal at the Bishop Lavis School of Skills in April sparked the need for us as a union to step up in the fight regarding school safety, in relation to teachers and learners. Police, the provincial education department, the city council and communities need to work on this.” Ahmed said the Education Department needed to have a pro-poor approach in regards to funding and allocating resources. He said often when incidents occur on the school premises it is the responsibility of the education department, but when violence occurs outside the school gates it’s the municipality’s or police’s responsibility. According to Sadtu statistics from January to March this year, there have been a total of 52 attacks on teachers; nine attacks on teachers by community members, 39 attacks by pupils and four attacks made by parents. Jessica Shelver spokesperson for Education MEC Debbie Schafer said: “We call on police to increase visible patrolling at our schools and for members of the police to adopt schools to ensure a safe school environment. It is important to note that while we do everything possible to protect our pupils while on the school premises, community safety and crime control rests with the police. While we have no control over police directly and their operations, we certainly try to engage with them on a regular basis to improve security at schools.” Mayco member for safety and security; and social services JP Smith said: “There is no solution for school safety, but for crime as a whole. We need complete change in communities.” This weekend stakeholders will have a dialogue on school safety at Oude Molen Technical High School.”

“Overcrowding is a major concern in our schools; it’s a challenge as quality of teaching and learning is lost. This means both parties (teachers and pupils) suffer. It has a negative impact on the pupils and we see this in their behaviour.” “In our school the ratio can be 1:46 and even more in other grades. This affects us as teachers as we get frustrated when we are struggling to discipline pupils We experience absenteeism from teachers Some pupils are slow so it’s hard to reach them and they end up repeating.” “It is generally accepted that in order for a classroom to function optimally there needs to be one teacher for every 25 pupils, but In the Western Cape the teacher to pupil ratio stands at one teacher to 37 pupils at primary schools and one teacher to 35 pupils at secondary schools.”

“Cape Town - While their classmates sit at desks, some pupils at a Strand school have to take their notes while balancing their books on their laps. Teachers at Nomzamo Primary say the pupils have been without desks since January and claim that while they had reported it to the school’s leadership, the problem has still not been resolved.”

“Cape Town - A teacher at a primary school in Mitchells Plain has recounted a horrifying daily ordeal at the hands of pupils, with seemingly no intervention by the school authorities. Khunjulwa Mfunyelwa, who teaches at Woodlands Primary School, said a pupil had smashed her in the face with a packet of samp (white mielies) during a class experiment. "I have been here for four months, but it feels like a year. It was on May 10 that the incident happened. I reported the pupil and she was suspended. The following day she came back to school, and she has been here ever since. "No parent came, and she is still misbehaving. The level of bullying is too high. The children are violent, and serious intervention is needed to examine the root cause of their behaviour.”

“Cape Town – A senseless murder robbed a school of a loving teacher and a husband of a wonderful wife. Three suspects in their early twenties have been arrested in connection with the shooting of Evangeline Brockman, 42, in Delft. Brockman’s husband Sidney, said his wife was waiting for him in the car while he was locking up his tavern in Delft, when three people approached him and asked him for R20. “I went inside to get the money for them, but as I turned I suddenly heard two shots going off and I rushed outside. The next thing, my wife was lying outside her car. They stole her tablet and ran away. They were two men and a woman.”

“Cape Town – Gang violence in Lavender Hill has forced the closure of four schools and teachers have demanded that Premier Helen Zille, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer and area city councillors intervene in the crisis. Teachers from Levana, Hillwood and Prince George primary schools and Lavender Hill High School are now reporting for duty at the regional Department of Education office in Ottery instead of to their schools.”

“NINETY-three incidents of school violence were reported during the first school term, an increase of 25 compared to the same period last year. That’s according to statistics compiled by the provincial education department’s Safe Schools Division. This year’s incidents included 72 cases of violence between pupils ranging from minor “pushing and shoving” incidents to stabbings, the department said. Sixty such cases were reported during the first term last year. There were 13 incidents of violence by pupils against their teachers this year compared to five last year. Eight cases of violence by teachers against pupils or corporal punishment were reported this year compared to three last year.”

“Twenty percent of South Africa’s teachers believe that schools are violent places and suspect their students and colleagues are armed. This is according to a survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council with the Department of Education among more than 20000 teachers at 1380 schools across the country. About 17% of teachers reported fights involving weapons at school and almost 13% of teachers believe gangs operate in their school.”




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