Get tough on students and schools, says union after teacher attacked at rugby game

Teacher safety has come under the spotlight after a teacher was attacked at a school in the Northern Cape over the weekend.

  • Teachers’ unions are concerned for the safety of teachers after an assault this weekend.
  • A teacher was assaulted after refereeing a rugby match at a school in the Northern Cape.
  • Unions say more needs to be done to instill values ​​in students.

Teacher safety has come under the spotlight after a teacher was attacked at a school in the Northern Cape over the weekend. Teacher unions are now calling for increased safety in schools and interventions to promote teacher safety.

On Saturday, two pupils and parents from the North Cape allegedly assaulted a teacher, who was acting as a referee during a rugby match at Hoërskool Daniëlskuil. Spectators and players of Hoërskool Daniëlskuil were reportedly unhappy with the referee’s handling of the match.

The school had since launched an internal investigation, Hoërskool Daniëlskuil school board chairman Jan-George van Straten said, and the pupils were suspended. The school is also trying to identify the parents involved in the assault.

READ | Police investigate attack on referee at school rugby match

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) spokesperson Nomusa Cele said the incident highlighted the safety risks for teachers, especially as the incident happened on the pitch. from school.

“We never want to see something like this happen. It shows teachers are not safe,” she said.

Cele expressed concern about the apparent lack of respect shown by parents and students towards the teacher.

Cele said:

It’s one thing for a referee to get heckled, but it’s another thing for the teacher to get beaten up. This happened in full view of the learners, which means that the parents are not setting a good example for their children and teaching them that violence is acceptable.

The acting president of the National Teachers’ Union, Sibusiso Malinga, said the organization condemned all acts of violence against teachers.

“Incidents like this, at school or at sporting events, cannot be allowed. It is the responsibility of schools and the Department of Education to make workplaces safe,” he said. -he declares.

However, Federation of School Governing Bodies (Fedsas) CEO Jaco Deacon said the North Cape storming should be seen as an isolated incident, carried out by “passionate supporters” of the sport.

Although the assault was the exception rather than the norm, the school was right to address the issue and take action against the students, he said.

Deacon added that parents involved in the assault, once identified, could be removed from school grounds. He said many schools are also enforcing a code of conduct for parents and spectators at games, as a preventive measure.

“In the school community there must also be an emphasis that sport is about the development of the child and should not be taken seriously,” he said.

Deacon stressed that schools need to do more than focus on disciplinary processes. He suggested starting programs that celebrate diversity and instill an ubuntu spirit.

“We need to move towards a values-based system with universal values ​​such as respect,” he said.

Cele advocated for increased safety in schools, but said more work needed to be done with the wider community.

She says:

It is a question of society. It is high time that we have a discussion about violence in our society and that everyone gets involved in the issues that arise in our schools.

Cele also called for stricter rules at school sports matches and said schools or players should be suspended for misbehavior.

“You don’t see this sort of thing in club and league matches because the club would be fined or suspended. Learners shouldn’t assume they have the right to play and should earn their place on the ground. We need to suspend learners and schools from the games if they engage in violence. It sounds difficult, but it’s the only way to hold them accountable,” she said.

Malinga urged schools to hire “armed and trained security guards” to protect teachers, saying other government facilities, such as clinics, have similar security. He added that arrangements should also be made to ensure police presence at sporting events, especially in areas where public sports facilities are used.

Earlier this year, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi described the schools as ‘sitting ducks’ after Deputy Headmaster of Phomolong Secondary School Thembisile Ngendane was shot dead as he was driving out of school in Tembisa.

At the time, he said more than 80% of the department’s budget was spent on teacher salaries, with almost all of the rest allocated to upgrading and maintaining infrastructure. He said that left little funds to increase school safety.

In February, News24 reported that a secondary school teacher was allegedly assaulted by a Grade 11 girl and her father at Setjhaba se Maketse co-educational school in Botshabelo in the Free State. The child allegedly collapsed in front of the teacher’s class earlier in the day, and when the parents were called to school, they allegedly confronted and attacked the teacher.

In April, a video of a teacher being jumped on and shocked during a classroom fight at a Johannesburg school went viral. During the scuffle, which involved several pupils, a schoolboy from Hoërskool Jan de Klerk in Krugersdorp jumped onto a teacher’s back and held him in a chokehold.

READ | A pupil jumps on the back of his teacher during a chaotic class fight in Johannesburg

At the time of publication, National Education Ministry spokesman Elijah Mhlanga was unable to provide an exact number of teachers who had been attacked in schools.

He said the department’s hands were tied when it came to teacher safety.

“The relationship between a learner and a teacher is such that contact is obligatory. It therefore becomes impossible to prevent close interaction. The issue of learner violence is directly linked to whether or not they are taught at home , [their] values. No one knows what’s in a learner’s head. The only measures that are applied are those that apply once the violence has taken place,” Mhlanga said.

“The search of learners is done, and dangerous items are confiscated, but in a context where someone attacks you with [their] bare hands, victims must open an assault file with the police.”


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