Teachers should be trained to deal with violence at schools, experts say
Teachers need to be trained to deal with violence at schools, education experts say.
"They are not being prepared to deal with levels of school violence," said Roné Mcfarlane, co-head of research at Equal Education.
McFarlane was speaking at a panel discussion on violence at schools hosted by the National Press Club in Pretoria on Tuesday.
"If something violent happens at school, there must be a plan to deal with it. If you have structure like that, then it becomes easy for teachers to deal with the situation," McFarlane said.
She said it was important for all stakeholders to come together to deal with the issue of violence at schools.
McFarlane said it was also important to unpack causes of violence before dealing with interventions.
Basil Manuel, the executive director at the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), echoed McFarlane’s sentiments that training teachers is necessary.
"The problem is vast and there are things we can do such as attending to infrastructure issues, the appropriate training of principals and teachers," Manuel said.
He said since corporal punishment was banned, teachers had not been trained to deal with violence at schools.
"Violence has been around since time immemorial and very little has been done to address the problem. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe environment for the teacher," Manuel added.
Maj-Gen Thokozani Mathonsi, who was representing the police, said the issue of violence at schools was exacerbated by crime in communities.
"The problems at schools come from areas that have a problem of crime," said Mathonsi.
He said the police had signed an agreement with the department of basic education to address the issue of violence at schools.
"We linked schools with police stations. As a result, we appointed educators whose job is to teach pupils about crime. We agreed with the department of basic education that in each school there must be a school safety committee."
He said in some schools, the committees were not as functional as they should be.
Nkosana Dolopi, the deputy general-secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu), said violence in communities had become normal and that pupils had become used to it.
"We have a created an environment where we teach children to know that in order to get something you must use violence. Learners are taught that violence is a solution. Children are bound to use violence to get what they want."
He said school governing bodies needed to be strengthened to deal with violence and that schools needed to provide for pupils who were not academically gifted so they didn't resort to crime.
"We need to get our families right; our society right, so we can address the issue of violence."
The panelists called for long-term intervention programmes, including a creating a forum in which all education stakeholders could engage to deal with violence at schools.