Teacher fired for applying corporal punishment

Corporal punishment has long been abolished, yet some teachers still make use of it.
Corporal punishment has long been abolished, yet some teachers still make use of it.

A mathematics teacher who allegedly assaulted almost 20 pupils at Sol Plaatjie Secondary School in Mahikeng, North West, has been expelled.

The teacher, who was a member of the school governing body (SGB) at the school, was expelled yesterday after been found guilty of contravening the law against corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment was banned in 1997, but despite this, many teachers in SA schools continue to beat pupils as a form of discipline.

The expelled Sol Plaatjie teacher allegedly beat almost the entire class for failing to obtain an 80% pass for their assessment.

The teacher was recruited in March by the department from the SGB after the school's mathematics teacher went on maternity leave.

On Thursday, he allegedly hit pupils on their buttocks, apparently saying he was not going to tolerate pupils who perform under an 80% target.

A parent of a Grade 9 pupil said she was shocked after her daughter came home with a bloodstained school uniform.

"He stroked [hit] her on her buttocks until the sanitary pad shifted and she had to mess herself in front of the whole class because she was on her periods," the mother said.

The teacher's action was condemned by other angry parents who took to social media demanding his dismissal.

Gershwin Chuenyane, communication manager for the provincial department of education and sport development, confirmed the assault and the subsequent expulsion of the teacher.

He said the replacement for the mathematics teacher and that of the SGB member were being prioritised.

"Discipline problems in schools are fast becoming a common cause for expulsion and/or suspension whether the teacher is employed by SGBs or under the Employer's Education Act."

To eliminate the recurrence of the scourge, Chuenyane said the department had sourced out the services of a pupil/teacher discipline specialist who will work with the department's wellness official in addressing psychological ills that lead to the improper behaviour of teachers and pupils.

Education and sport development MEC Sello Lehari said corporal punishment was unacceptable.

He said teachers were defined by the values they uphold in running the classroom and were all subject to disciplinary measures irrespective of the nature of their employment.

"We are also working on enforcing psychological evaluation of teachers as part of supporting them with their mental wellbeing that will look at underlying reasons for improper behaviours rather than using punitive approaches."

He said both teachers and pupils will undergo psychological treatment.

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