Learner violence against educators will not be tolerated
In recent weeks there have been a number of incidents in some provinces of teachers being attacked physically by learners. Some of the reports and images have shocked the education community. We cannot live in a society where our teachers teach in fear of the learners sitting before them.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is building a values-driven organisation and we will NOT tolerate or condone any form of violence or aggression against any teacher, principal or staff member.
Our teachers are our most important asset, not just for the WCED, but for the country as a whole. They are valued professionals and should be given the respect that they deserve.
As a former teacher, and as Head of Department, I have great empathy for the many teachers that deal with learners that have behavioural issues.
We are very aware that there are disciplinary challenges at our schools. It is also well known that there are learners that are expelled from schools in the Western Cape. This is because we take a zero tolerance stance against learners who transgress various disciplinary code, especially if they show aggression against or assault fellow learners or teachers.
Through the schools' codes of conduct, schools should state clearly what kinds of behaviour they consider unacceptable. Should a learner transgress, then the school has the right to discipline the learner.
The WCED will support schools that ensure that the relevant disciplinary procedures are followed when it comes to violence and substance abuse in our schools. The WCED's Policy on Learner Discipline and School Management assists schools on how to conduct this process. The WCED district offices are also equipped to provide advice on how to manage the disciplinary procedures.
Our learners need to be taught from a young age what the values are that they should demonstrate towards their educators, as well as their peers.
That is why the WCED has identified "The Year of Values-Driven learning" as a theme for 2018. This theme focuses on six values: caring, competence, accountability, integrity, innovation and responsiveness. Schools have been asked to identify 12 values that symbolise and characterise the values that they want to espouse and then showcase these values in various ways.
The WCED has also adopted a Mindset Change programme which aims to help individuals make the shift from adopting negative attitudes to positive approaches instead.
While we have many socio-economic challenges in our province, we cannot become a society that accepts or condones violent behaviour towards our teachers. The WCED will NOT TOLERATE any form of aggression or threats against teachers.
We also require the assistance of parents and community members. They too have a role to play. Parents need to take primary responsibility for their children's discipline and values and also need to set the right example of how one should behave.
Parents must also be made aware that if their children do choose to behave inappropriately towards a teacher, their children's actions will have severe negative consequences. We do not want to see learners' futures jeopardized through such unnecessary and unacceptable actions and trust that this will serve as a caution.