The Eastern Cape is leading with the highest number of corporal punishment cases in the land, at 17.9%.
Yet the province’s department of education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima says there is no scientific evidence to prove a link between corporal punishment and performance.
“When the department recruits teachers it gives them a resource file which specifies what is expected from them.
“The file does have a chapter that stipulates corporal punishment as being illegal.”
There have been significant improvements in the Eastern Cape matric results, despite it being the country’s worst-performing province yet again.
“We do encourage parents to lay charges if their children are being abused by their teachers. However, you realise that some parents are to blame. There are parents, especially with pupils in some rural schools, who say they were raised being beaten, therefore their children may receive a hiding to reach their success,” Mtima said.
He said South Africa was bound by laws and they needed to be adhered to. Corporal punishment was wrong, he said.
He said there were advocacy campaigns that aim to educate on the importance of obeying the law.
Meanwhile, the province’s deputy head for equal education, Amanda Rinquent, said corporal punishment ofpupils at Zukhanye Senior Secondary School in Dimbaza was an issue that the school had been dealing with.
Even though the country has thought of corporal punishment as a thing of the past it was not the case. The representative council for learners (RCL) of the school joined by members of Equal Education stood against this act by the teachers.
Their aim was to stand against all forms of corporal punishment at the school, the emotional abuse of pupils when they do not get along with teachers and including cleaning toilets as a form of punishment for late coming.
Rinquent said corporal punishment had been banned at the school and warned of sanctions.
With regards to corporal punishment at Zukhanya Secondary, Mtima said there was a need to be aware that this was a problem that probably exists not only in this school but at the schools in the area.
“The justice cluster is coming on board in this matter and workshops will take place which will instil it in teachers
that corporal punishment is illegal and they will end up in jail if guilty of it,” Mtima said.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.
The committee gave some examples of different types of corporal punishment.
In 1996, the South African Schools Act, under Section 10, banned the use of corporal punishment in schools. In 2000 this was confirmed in the Christian Education case. Despite the ban on corporal punishment 20 years ago, teachers are still hitting children at schools. It is illegal.
The end of apartheid brought with it the end of an authoritarian culture, and a shift towards a culture of human rights. The social and political developments in South Africa created a shift in the education system towards an outcomes-based curriculum (outcomes based education or OBE), designed to facilitate more participative forms of learning in the new human rights’ culture.
This was coupled with a new national legal framework for schooling.