Teachers on backfoot when pupils hit

ROGUE PUPILS: Two pupils supposedly attacked a teacher for confiscating a cellphone. PICTURE: AFRO WORLDVIEW / YOUTUBE

TEACHERS often find themselves between a rock and a hard place when under attack from pupils as they cannot fight back because they face the prospect of being struck off the roll.

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) said this often meant that teachers have to endure both verbal and physical abuse from pupils to avoid losing their jobs.

The comment from the union comes in the wake of a viral video showing two pupils attacking a teacher supposedly because she had confiscated one of the pupils’ phones in class.

The two girls apparently waited for the teacher after school and attacked her.

The school is said to be in Limpopo but it is yet to be confirmed exactly which school the pupils and teacher are from.

Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said it was time the law relooked at the age of accountability of children
to ensure that teachers were also protected.

“We are seeing more and more younger pupils getting more violent and teachers cannot do anything because
these pupils are protected by the law in every aspect,” she said.

“Our teachers are on the back foot. If a teacher was to retaliate and harm the pupil they would be struck off the roll.”

She however, conceded that it was not solely the Basic Education Department’s responsibility to ensure that discipline is instilled in schools and that both teachers and pupils are protected.

“We urge communities and parents to take more interest in the education of their children and parents to ensure that pupils are more disciplined.”

The Limpopo department of education said it was circulating the video to all circuit offices and schools to identify which school in the province the pupils were from.

“We are shocked and concerned by the video and we will make sure that the school is identified.

“It is unacceptable and it cannot be allowed that teachers are harmed by pupils anywhere whether on school
premises or outside,” department spokesperson Sam Makondo said.

The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) also weighed in on the matter, saying it was time for schools to “move away from a rules-driven system to a more value-driven system”.

Fedsas CEO Paul Colditz said there were situations where pupils came from “broken” families and still needed to be taught values such as respect.

“This is a different system so we need to look at a long-term plan on teaching values in schools,” he said.