The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is concerned by the prevalence of physical, verbal violence and aggression directed against teachers and schooling staff, in school premises. It is a national epidemic from primary to senior level schools.
Just last week, in KwaZulu-Natal, a Principal of Msunduzi Secondary School, a finishing school in Pietermaritzburg, was shot and killed on Thursday allegedly by the husband of a woman who happened to be in the school premises.
This follows a tragic aggression of a Grade 10 pupil from Northbury Park Secondary School in Northdale, Pietermaritzburg, who allegedly torched a deputy principal’s car in revenge for confiscating his cellphone. Not only that, on 1 September, pupils from KwaNdengezi High School near Pinetown torched their school after a ‘police search and seizure operation’ netted cellphones, different kinds of dangerous weapons and drugs.
These horrific incidents follow a report which revealed that over 180 teachers have been attacked on school premises in the Western Cape Province only. Most of these incidents are perpetuated by learners as opposed to outside criminals. Indeed, violence has become a common trend in schools throughout the country.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) needs to enforce sustainable effective solutions to curb violence in schools, such as establishing programs that will enforce zero-tolerance policies against school-based violence. If needs be the education policy must be reviewed to give balance between the educators’ and leaners’ rights.
We must be cognizance of the fact that these learners come from violent communities, therefore, South African Police Service (SAPS) must intensify the fight against crime because violence in schools is often a reflection of what is happening within the community. Also, SAPS and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) should collaborate and host educational programs to prevent crime in schools.
DBE needs to work together with the Department of Social Development to place psychologists and social workers in schools, to provide counselling to educators and learners, intervene in crises, assist with conflict resolution skills and anger management.
Teaching is a key strategy to shape any learner’s perspective, hence it is a necessity to introduce a subject that will solely focus on discipline. Appropriate severe punishment should be in metered out to leaners and community members who perpetrate violence in school premises.
We need the kind of environment in our schools that is conducive to education and learning. Educators must do their work of teaching without fear, learners must go to school to learn and not to cause trouble. Schools should be a safe environment that encourages effective teaching and learning.
Mr Bongani Msomi
UDM Secretary General