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School CP - June 2004

Corpun file 13679

East London Daily Dispatch, 9 June 2004

Bisho gets tough on corporal punishment

By Zine George

EAST LONDON - The provincial Education Department has warned educators who continue to use corporal punishment that they will face the wrath of the law.

The provincial department has handled 10 cases related to corporal punishment in the past year alone.

Departmental spokesperson Gay Khaile told the Daily Dispatch yesterday that five teachers had received written warnings, three were suspended for a month without pay, one was fined R2500 and given a final written warning, while a tenth was acquitted.

"No serious injuries were reported in any cases, but any form of corporal punishment is illegal," said Khaile.

The announcement follows a KwaZulu-Natal case in which a high school boy collapsed and died last Tuesday after a teacher allegedly beat him with a length of hosepipe for being late for school.

Khaile said the department was aware that some schools were continuing to use corporal punishment.

"Educators must know they are violating the rule of law," said Khaile. "And we call on everyone who witnesses any educator committing such an offence to report the matter to the department immediately."

South African Democratic Teachers' Union provincial secretary Mxolisi Dimaza said not all schools in the province were doing things according to the book.

"But our members are fully aware that the union will never support any educator who commits such an offence," said Dimaza.

He said in some schools teachers have agreements with parents who for "some reason" prefer their children to be punished. He said teachers were responsible for teaching their communities that the use of corporal punishment was a criminal offence.

"We tell teachers regularly that, at the end of the day, they are the ones expected to set an example. When they use corporal punishment they do so at their own peril," said Dimaza.

National Union of Educators provincial secretary Graeme Gilmour said his union was aware of such problems at some schools, but was doing everything in its power to teach educators that corporal punishment was illegal.

"The department must try to handle these cases very objectively because you find that some parents try to get money out of this," said Gilmour.

"The rights of both the teacher and the learner must be protected."

Corpun file 13678

Daily News, Durban, 9 June 2004

Big stick for headmaster

By Bongani Mthembu

The province's education bosses have gagged the Umlazi principal who landed in hot water after a hidden TV camera showed him caning pupils.

Footage aired on SABC3 television news on Sunday showed SE Shangase, principal of Qhilika Secondary School, dishing out corporal punishment to latecomers.

When approached by the Daily News, Shangase refused to answer questions, saying the Department of Education had ordered him not to speak to the press.

He did, however, take time to deliver a tongue-lashing to the SABC journalists who secretly filmed his actions, accusing them of "trespassing" at the school.

"I had always thought journalists were educated people who knew that trespassing was illegal. I can't understand why they didn't come to me or to any of the teachers before putting our school on television," he fumed.

One of the school's teachers, who asked not to be named, said Shangase had clearly been shocked by the broadcasting of his actions, which are outlawed in terms of the South African Schools Act.

The teacher said Shangase had been absent from the school yesterday.

"He came and left immediately. You could see he was furious."

Illegal corporal punishment at schools has again come under the spotlight, not only because of Shangase's televised whackings, but also following last week's death of 16-year-old Thuthuka Zuma, a pupil at Phezulu Secondary in Hammarsdale.

Zuma died after he was caned at school and a senior educator at the school has been suspended pending an investigation.

The provincial Department of Education has stated that teachers who beat pupils will not receive any protection from the department.

Daily News 2004. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 13677, 9 June 2004

Umlazi principal says he was wrong to hit pupils

The school principal at the centre of a row over the beating of pupils at an Umlazi school has acknowledged that his actions were wrong. This follows an unannounced visit to the school by Ina Cronje, the KwaZulu-Natal education MEC.

Cronje says she was generally happy with the way Sibusiso Shangase was running the school, but had reservations about his methods of corporal punishment. Shangase was captured on video as he beat pupils who had arrived late for school.

His actions prompted a storm of protest in education circles. Shangase says he had a fruitful meeting with Cronje and resolved not to continue with corporal punishment. Shangase added that he hoped the department could assist in finding alternative methods of instilling discipline.

South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Copyright 2000 - 2003 SABC

Corpun file 13568

Cape Times, 10 June 2004

Corporal punishment still meted out at schools

By Heather Greenfield

About 150 Western Cape children a month complain about being hit at schools and teacher organisations admit that this is happening.

But corporal punishment is outlawed under the South African Schools Act and it's one thing that MEC for Education Cameron Dugmore is adamant will be stopped.

Last week, a headmaster in KwaZulu-Natal was caught on camera caning pupils who had arrived late for school. Another child in the province collapsed and died after being struck with a plastic pipe.

Authorities are investigating the incidents.

Western Cape Childline manager Ricki Fransman said pupils had a fear of reporting teachers for hitting them.

"They are afraid they will be targeted in the classroom."

Fransman estimated that there were 150 phone calls a month from children reporting corporal punishment.

"There needs to be a lot more teacher accountability for the government, for the people, for the students," she said.

"The South African Council of Educators (SACE) and the education department do follow up investigations immediately."

Dugmore said progress had been made by banning corporal punishment, but clearly the practice had not been eliminated in all schools.

"It is incredibly difficult to establish the scale of the problem, but I want to make it very clear that if any educator is involved in corporal punishment, I will use all the power I have to ensure that they are removed from the education system permanently," he said.

"We are working on a strategy to support our schools with an approach to establishing a culture of learning and teaching in which discipline is a central component."

Thulas Nxesi, general secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union, said the old style of discipline had not yet been buried.

"We are aware that some of the schools are still using corporal punishment.

"The problem is that the teachers have been trained through the old system."

Nxesi said the role of the union was to show teachers how to act responsibly and the role of the government was to deal with the cases that occurred.

"We want to defend teachers to ensure a fair investigation."

There was a need for a co-operative effort between teachers and their employers so teachers could learn other methods of disciplining pupils.

"We hold workshops to show teachers how to act responsibly and to teach new methods of punishment," Nxesi said.

The chief executive of the SACE, Rej Brijraj, said that once an allegation of severe corporal punishment was received, the suspension of the teacher was immediately requested.

"Corporal punishment is a phenomenon that is on its way out." Even so, it continued at a rate that had shocked members of the council. "There is no leniency shown to teachers ... It's time to integrate progressive forms of discipline."

The SACE had found beatings occurred in schools across the economic spectrum.

Cape Times 2004. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 13675

Cape Times, 11 June 2004

260 teachers probed for hitting children

By Heather Greenfield

Complaints about corporal punishment have been lodged against 260 teachers in the past 18 months, according to the Western Cape Education Department.

Of these, 210 had been finalised, said the head of the department, Ron Swartz.

Cases of corporal punishment are investigated through a disciplinary hearing, and final appeals go to MEC Cameron Dugmore.

"The WCED does its best to finalise the cases within three months," Swartz said.

"The WCED has a zero-tolerance approach to corporal punishment.

"We do not hesitate when it comes to charging employees with misconduct when incidents come to light."

In 1996, the government adopted the SA Schools Act, which states: "No person may administer corporal punishment at a school to a learner."

Swartz said the act clearly forbids corporal punishment and the WCED would act accordingly.

Dugmore said he would use all his power to permanently remove teachers guilty of corporal punishment from the school system.

"We are committed to the speedy resolution of outstanding matters. I will be guided by an implacable opposition to corporal punishment," he said.

Cape Times 2004. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 13676

Cape Times, 11 June 2004

Nothing like a damn good hiding to save schools from anarchy

By John Scott

'If you don't do well at school I'll give you a damn good hiding." That was often my father's parting shot to my brother and me in the mornings.

We knew not to take him seriously. It was his jocular way of saying "have a nice day". In fact I can never remember him laying a hand on either of us, though sometimes, more for the benefit of laughing neighbours, he would chase us down the street to the nearby pine forest where we would climb a tree out of his reach.

It was at school itself that we watched our own behaviour warily, because stepping out of line could indeed incur a damn good hiding.

There was no doubt that canings acted as a deterrent and ensured a discipline that might otherwise have been difficult to maintain among several hundred unruly boys. I had my first caning at Plumstead Primary, now Timour Hall School. The couple of whacks were administered by the principal, Dr John Midgley, for some misdemeanour that I have long forgotten.

Years later, in his retirement, he became a personal friend. I reminded him of a habit he had of throwing a piece of chalk on the floor and asking the offending boy to pick it up. When the boy bent down, Midgley would give him a swipe on the behind with a wooden pointer he used to indicate words on the blackboard.

Then one day a more knowing pupil declined to pick up the chalk, explaining: "Sir, I know your tricks." Midgley let him off with a grin and a warning.

At Wynberg I had occasion to bend down for the junior headmaster, too, a straight-backed bachelor known universally as "Annie" Lorie. He taught the violin, ran the school orchestra, and administered the cane with the same precision that he used the bow.

I managed to avoid such physical encounters in high school, but there was one master who struck the fear of God into most of us. Built like a tank, with arms as thick as tree trunks, "Hefty" Wood was reputed to hit so hard you ended up at the other side of the classroom.

Only the other day I met a former pupil, now a pensioner, who still nursed a grudge against him.

Hefty and I got on fine, and I learnt all I still know about genetics and Mendelian ratios from him, but I would never have taken any liberties with him. He was one of the school's bulwarks against juvenile anarchy All of which is why I can't understand why such a fuss is being made of corporal punishment in schools. Far from traumatising anyone I know, the only danger is that sometimes impressionable youths can become addicted to it, in later life, like those former English public schoolboys who tell prostitutes they have been very naughty and need a good spanking.

But for the most part, as my father would say (but not demonstrate), a damn good hiding never did anyone any harm.

Cape Times 2004. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 13566

Sunday Times, Johannesburg, 13 June 2004

National news

It costs millions to beat caning

By Bongani Mthethwa and Menriette Geldenbuys

NATIONAL and provincial education departments are spending millions to stamp out corporal punishment in schools.

Provinces this year will spend R2-million training educators in ways to spare the rod while maintaining classroom discipline. The national Education department has a budget of R2-million for the same exercise.

The South African Council of Educators (with which all teachers must register) this week said that two teachers had recently been struck off the roll and another three suspended for inflicting corporal punishment.

The council's chief executive, Rej Brijraj, said 10 such cases had been referred to it in the last three years.

Corporal punishment was abolished by the Schools Act of 1996, yet education experts said this week it was still widespread.

Last week a 16-year-old pupil at the Phezulu High School near Hammarsdale in KwaZulu-Natal, Thuthuka Zuma, collapsed and died after his principal allegedly hit him for being late for school.

Brijraj said the council was investigating three serious cases of corporal punishment, including the incident at Phezulu High.

The other cases are:

A Gauteng pupil who suffered a swollen eye after he was allegedly punched and his head banged against a wall ; and

A Limpopo pupil who lost consciousness after being beaten by a teacher.

The deputy director-general of Education, Dr Cassius Lubisi, this week said there was evidence that many teachers were not prepared to give up corporal punishment.

Lubisi said the department had developed a manual to train provincial and district officials as well as school management teams and governing structures in how to find alternatives to corporal punishment. This year R1.2-million would be spent on training people to use the manual.

Thami Mseleku, the department's director-general, agreed that many teachers continued to use corporal punishment.

Mseleku said there were a number of alternatives to corporal punishment.

Salim Vally, a senior researcher at Wits University' s education policy unit, said abolishing corporal punishment had been important but not enough because the practice was still "pervasive".

Vally, who played a prominent role in writing the Education Department's guidelines on alternatives to caning, highlighted some of these:

Time out: removing disobedient children to places where they can cool down in the presence of other staff members;

Withdrawing privileges such as class trips or fun days; and

Placing naughty children on daily reports. The teacher marks a pupil's behavioural problems on a sheet throughout the day and discusses them at the end of the day.

Dr Graham Catto, council chairman of an independent Pretoria school, Hatfield Christian School, said he could understand why the government had banned corporal punishment "because its abuse was so widespread".

However, he said a "blanket ban" was not the answer. Rather, teachers should be trained to mete out corporal punishment in a "responsible way".

Johnnic Publishing 1996-2001. All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 13663

Daily News, Durban, 15 June 2004

Caning: you might change your mind

With regard to corporal punishment, I have the perfect perspective on it as I was about in Grade 5 when it was abolished.

The change in attitude towards teachers was disgusting. I've witnessed a pupil spitting in the face of a teacher, male teachers reduced to tears and unruly classes that are impossible to teach.

I have often discussed this issue with my peers and they all agree that corporal punishment should be reinstated.

I suggest that the people against corporal punishment should spend a month trying to teach a class of 30 or 40 high school pupils and see if they change their minds.

Tristan Wilkinson

Daily News 2004. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 13652

Daily News, Durban, 23 June 2004

Pupils cane each other

By Kuben Chetty

Corporal punishment, illegal under the South African Schools Act, is still being meted out in the country's schools - but in a novel way.

In Ingwavuma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, teachers hoping to avoid prosecution, suspension or dismissal for using corporal punishment, are getting school pupils, some as young as six, to cane each other.

Childline's national co-ordinator Joan van Niekerk said these and other incidents of corporal punishment in Ingwavuma had been related to her by worried parents.

Provincial education spokesman Mandla Msibi said the department would send a team of investigators to look into the matter if it is reported to them.

"If Childline has received these reports then they must inform us so that we can stop this madness," he said.

Msibi said the department was not aware of the incidents, but promised not to allow them to continue if the allegations were true.

Van Niekerk raised the issue at a meeting with the national Department of Education last week. She was in the Ingwavuma area to address schooling issues and to visit projects for orphans when she was given the shocking news.

"Corporal punishment has continued in rural schools even though it's illegal. But now teachers are getting the children to hit each other so they cannot be held responsible."

She said this presented a whole new challenge to the education department.

"They are inciting children to acts of violence on each other but they are not breaking the law.

"If they can be that inventive why can't they apply the same degree of thought to non-violent forms of punishment?" she asked.

Van Niekerk said the meeting was also to look at ways to investigate cases of physical abuse without children being intimidated.

And in Sydenham, Durban, the mother of a 9-year-old girl has charged a teacher with common assault.

She claims to have reported the corporal punishment to the child's school on three different occasions, but nothing was done about it.

Shenaaz Josephs, whose 9-year-old daughter attends St Theresa's Primary school in Sydenham, said she first complained of the punishment in January this year.

When the school did nothing about the incidents, Josephs reported the matter to the local police and allowed her daughter to stay at home.

The school's principal, Gregory Ackers, said he was aware of all three incidents and had warned the teacher involved to refrain from using corporal punishment on pupils. The teacher was told that the school viewed the incident "in a serious light".

Dr Thilo Moodley-Kunnie, clinical psychologist and director of the Meyrick Bennett Child Guidance Centre, said corporal punishment took away children's exuberance and ability to show potential.

"Poor self-esteem could foster other problems like drug taking and getting into gangs for comfort," she said.

Daily News 2004. All rights reserved.

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