Our educators need to be better and do better

20 September 2017 - 06:42
By The Times Editorial
Image: Mark Andrews

Corporal punishment of children is a violation of human rights.

So reads the opening line of the Protocol on Dealing with Incidents of Corporal Punishment in Schools, discussed last week by the Education Department's council of education ministers. This seems an obvious statement that could be considered redundant in a document aimed at the education community.

The document explains its purpose is to "highlight the abolishment of corporal punishment in schools and to provide clear guidance". The protocol says provincial education departments need to release an annual circular informing officials and teachers that corporal punishment has been abolished.

But, surely, 17 years after the Constitutional Court outlawed corporal punishment there should be no need to explain something so simple to educators. It's been the law since 1996 - following the 1995 ruling - so there really is no excuse for teachers, principals or any school staff members not knowing.

But, as the last week has shockingly shown, there clearly is a need to point out the obvious.

Video footage emerged this week of a 16-year-old pupil from the Adelaide Tambo School for the Disabled in Soweto being assaulted by a food handler on a bus. The girl is then restrained by the bus driver, dragged outside the vehicle and left crying on the ground.

This came a week after a video of a teacher in KwaZulu-Natal severely assaulting girls in a classroom, beating them with a cane.

Would these incidents have been dealt with were it not for smartphones and social media, and what must go on in schools where access to such technologies is lacking?

Our educators need to be better and do better. They shouldn't need to be reminded of a law so long entrenched. Those who need the reminder deserve no place in our education system and should be removed immediately.