WCED Announces a plan to address teacher stress and safety challenges | Western Cape Government



WCED Announces a plan to address teacher stress and safety challenges

5 October 2018

Today I join my colleagues in the WCED in celebrating our teachers who make a difference every day in the life of a child. The WCED is pleased to mark this day, as we celebrate the important contribution that teachers make in providing quality education in the province.

World Teachers Day represents a significant effort to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development across the world.

But with the recent flare up of attacks on teachers across the country, it is important that as a Government, we have in place programmes that provide psycho-social support to all teachers in need. We are aware a number of our teachers are faced with increased disciplinary challenges in their classrooms.

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 resource, 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.

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. 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.

The WCED has in place through the Employee Health and Wellness programme, a plan to address teacher stress and safety challenges that includes;

  • Profiling schools in gang and violent areas (which commenced at the start of 2017) and offer EWP services
  • An agreement with the EWP service provider to make contact with schools in gang and violent areas and advocate services and support. The service provider will also make contact with schools where incidences of violence, trauma, gangsterism are reported.
  • An agreement was forged in the PELRC to focus in 2019 specifically on teachers in schools at risk and provide psycho social support and training interventions on the following topics:





Conflict into Synergy

Managing conflict in the workplace

This programme has been developed to assist organisations in using the information at the heart of the conflict to build effective Conflict Resolution mechanisms and thereby build strength in the individual as well as the organisation


Dealing with stress and finding balance

This experiential session helps employees to understand the influence stress has on them as individuals and provides them with tools to cope with daily stressors as part of their personal and professional wellbeing

Resilience for employees

Coping with change and building resilience

Helps employees to understand their own reactions to change and provides them with practical and emotional support, coping mechanisms and tools to build resilience

Emotional impact session

Personal emotional profiling

Emotional barometer and how to cope with own emotions and build resilience


The WCED's Employee Health and Wellness Programme aims to provide psycho-social support to all employees in need. The programme highlights the importance of personal wellbeing and advocates a preventative approach. It is achieved through advocacy programmes and to integrate with existing programmes.

For the 2017/18 financial year a total of 798 individual employees accessed the EWP services.

In addition, during the period 1 April to 30 June 2018, 22 group trauma debriefing sessions took place at schools across the province benefiting 334 teachers, which saw an increase from the previous financial year due to more focused advocacy and programme integration.

During the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018, 30 group trauma debriefing sessions took place at schools across the province benefitting approximately 471 teachers.

Incidents supported during Group Trauma Debriefing sessions are: loss of learners; loss of teachers; hijacking; stabbing; violence; armed robbery and gang violence.

The top presenting psycho social issues from teachers accessing the EWP services are:

  • Stress
  • Relationship issues (personal)
  • Organisational issues (work relations, performance management)
  • Mental Illness/Psychiatric
  • Trauma

This is of great concern to me. Teachers are faced with a mammoth task in their classrooms. They not only teach the learners but often have to act as social workers, parents and nurses. In addition to this, teachers in many of our schools fear the very learners that they teach.

The WCED EWP services also hosts a number of Employee Health and Wellness Awareness Days that not only provide support for teachers but also provides health screening for teachers.

During the 2017/18 financial year there were 51 Employee Health and Wellness Awareness Days hosted across the province.

We encourage our teachers to attend these Health and Wellness days.

All Employee Wellness services can be accessed via the following toll free line: 0800 111 011

Services are provided by an independent service provider through registered health professionals.

Requests for Employee Health and Wellness Days or for focused training interventions can be directed to the following contact numbers: (021) 467 2577/2421/9281.

I also encourage schools that are faced with behavioural challenges to review their codes of conduct to clearly state what kinds of behaviour are 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. This is because we take a zero tolerance stance on learners that transgress various disciplinary codes by attacking or assaulting their fellow learners or educators.

Schools are to ensure that they are informed of the relevant guidelines to assist them in this regard. This includes the WCED's policy on Learner Discipline and School Management, as well as the WCED Abuse no more protocol document.

It has been mentioned on many an occasion that educators feel unsure how to deal with discipline in their classroom. While there is not a 'one size fits all' approach to unruly behaviour in our schools, there are certain methods that can be adopted to deal with different circumstances.

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 crucial 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.

The vision of the WCED is to ensure quality education for every child in every classroom, in every school. We depend absolutely on teachers to make this possible.

Education is fundamental in any society. As the Provincial Minister of Education, I am deeply appreciative of the service that our teachers render, and for their dedication and commitment to changing the lives of our learners.

I hope that despite the challenges they face, that they will always continue to have the passion, commitment and resilience that is required of a teacher. We are grateful for the selfless work that they do to ensure that our learners have the best opportunities to succeed in their lives.

Together we can make a huge impact on our province and our country. Our teachers are, after all, the reason why ordinary learners dream to do extraordinary things.

To all our teachers - Happy World Teacher's Day - thank you for what you do.

Media Enquiries: 

Jessica Shelver
Tel: 021 483 6570
E-mail: Jessica.Shelver@westerncape.gov.za