Discipline in Schools
The governing body at each school must consult with educators, parents and learners to draft a code of conduct for learners.This code of conduct must include:
- the types of misbehaviour that will be punished.
- the types of punishment that will be given for different forms of misbehaviour.
- procedure that the school will follow in disciplining a learner.
- grievance procedures for parents and learners if they want to take up a matter against another learner or the school.
A guide on how to establish a code of conduct is contained in the document Alternatives to Corporal Punishment
Corporal punishment, e.g. caning, is prohibited in schools, and anyone found using it can be charged with assault.
To assist teachers find alternative means of disciplining children, the national Department of Education has released a document on alternative means of disciplining learners.
Parents who become aware of corporal punishment in a school should approach the principal and thereafter the school's Circuit Manager, who can be contacted via the nearest EMDC. Learners who want to report corporal punishment anonymously can contact the Safe Schools Call Centre toll-free on 0800 45 46 47.
The regulations governing cases of serious misconduct are set out in Provincial Gazette Extraordinary 5190 of 31 October 1997. These regulations specify the kinds of misconduct defined as serious (e.g. possession or use of liquor or drugs, assault, theft, immorality, absenteeism and disgraceful conduct). A list of forms of serious misconduct is given in the Department of Education document Alternatives to Corporal Punishment .
A governing body can suspend a learner from school for up to a week for serious misconduct. This may happen only after a hearing conducted in accordance with the regulations, i.e. the parents and learner must be told when and where the hearing will be held, must be given full details of the charge(s), must be given a chance to tell their side of the story, and may be represented by someone such as a lawyer.
If the governing body finds the offence serious enough, it can recommend to the provincial Head of Education that he or she should expel the learner. The Head of Education must decide on the matter within 14 days, during which time the learner may not attend school.
If a learner is expelled, he or she (and/or parents) can appeal to the provincial Minister of Education.
If an expelled learner is of compulsory school-going age, the Head of Education has to make arrangements to place him or her in another public school.