Don't spare the rod, say pupils
Soweto pupils yesterday called for sterner action against classmates who drink alcohol or use drugs at school.
They say more discipline would help to reduce the gangsterism and substance abuse problems that plague many schools in the township.
They were speaking at the second annual Soweto Learner Summit yesterday, an event hosted by the Gauteng department of education. It was attended by a few hundred pupils.
MEC for education Barbara Creecy said she was particularly concerned about Soweto schools because only 67.6% of their students passed matric last year in contrast to the Gauteng average of 81.1%.
Creecy called on Soweto pupils to "turn around the system in Soweto" by urging their classmates to arrive at class on time and conduct themselves responsibly .
"Can you get the message across to your peers to come on time to school?" she asked.
Pupils argued that discipline was needed.
They said students sold drugs on school premises, and two pupils said they knew of teachers who bought cigarettes from schoolboys.
Protea Glen Secondary School pupil Victor Mathunwa said he believed that "more discipline at schools would improve learning".
"Students gamble during teaching time. They even bet on soccer games at break," he said.
Siyabonga Secondary School pupil Lwanda Gawulekhaka called for corporal punishment to be reinstated to stop drunkenness and late-coming at schools.
Jabulani Technical High School pupil Hlalanathi Dlamini said teachers were unable to control older pupils, those 20 or older.
Dlamini also called on the department to implement better monitoring systems to ensure that teachers did not miss classes or arrive late.
Creecy said a plan of action would be formed to deal with students' concerns.
She said district education officials would make weekly surprise visits to Soweto schools to make sure teachers were in class.
She said the department was working with school governing bodies to help them take responsibility for discipline at their schools.