pupil sex for good marks

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

Another shocking report on South African schools has revealed a disturbing trend in which schoolgirls voluntarily engage in sexual activity with teachers to earn good grades.

This tendency is called "sexually transmitted marks", or STM. This is contained in the South African Human Rights Commission (HRC) report on school-based violence, which was released this week.

It follows a similarly chilling report by the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) last month that indicated that only 23percent of pupils in South Africa felt safe at schools.

The HRC report paints an ominous picture: South African schools are unsafe for teachers and pupils.

In 2006, the HRC held public hearings after receiving numerous complaints about violence in schools. The commission said that "a major concern is whether or not we are able to create environments within our schools that are conducive to teaching and learning.

"The violence that is playing itself out in our schools is not simply violence in the form of bullying; it has escalated to serious levels, resulting in fatalities."

Some of the more worrying trends revealed in the report were the degree of sexual crimes, especially towards female teachers and pupils.

The public hearings also showed that the majority of sexual crimes in schools went unreported.

Corrective rape, where a male rapes a lesbian pupil to make her heterosexual is, also a growing phenomenon in schools.

National Professional Teachers of South Africa (Naptosa) president Dave Balt said that they were heeding the HRC's call to address school violence.

The report also indicated that teachers were leaving the profession because of psychological and physical abuse by pupils.

Balt said: "At best, we only have 5000 teachers coming into the system a year - while we are losing between 20000 and 35000 teachers."

Bullying is still one of the most common forms of violence in schools, and was often the start of more serious crimes.

The director-general of the Department of Education, Duncan Hindle, said the department would be concentrating on school security but that parents also had to take responsibility and make sure their children did not carry weapons to schools.

The report also indicated that though corporal punishment was prohibited, it still occurred in schools.