Why have SA schools become murderous war zones

Why have SA schools become murderous war zones.
Why have SA schools become murderous war zones.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

Last week was an utterly bewildering and disturbing week for educators, repositories and transmitters of the knowledge and skills in the modern world.

We saw Gadimang Mokolobate, a maths teacher at Ramotshere Technical Secondary School in North West, brutally stabbed to death with a butcher knife by his 17-year-old pupil in a school that ought to be a safe haven.

This is the same week when we heard that a 15-year-old Grade 8 pupil pulled a gun on his teacher at Eldorado Park Secondary School in Johannesburg.

The barbaric murder of Celwa Mapila, a teacher at Middelpos Primary School in the Western Cape, that left the nation stunned, is still all too fresh in our memories.

We are battling to assimilate why and how educators are being killed at the hands of pupils in gruesome acts that educational commenters succinctly describe as a "silent national crisis".

Maths teacher Mokolobate's murder paints a worrisome picture of schools not being effectively equipped to deal with ill-mannered pupils and to address safety and security issues affecting teachers and pupils.

It suggests that the schooling system is teetering on the edge of outright anarchy, which requires a complete overhaul.

You can only image what type of unruly behaviour teachers are faced with on a daily basis.

The question is why have schools become war zones?

Perhaps we need to plumb the profundity of our thoughts to try to understand where did we lose the integrity and idealism of education; how the school sector has ended up at a perilous crossroads; and at what cost did our government fail to enhance the status and ethos of the teaching profession and to ensure that the dignity of teachers is protected in the classroom.

We probably need to fix our eyes on the challenges of parenting in the age of postmillennials and come out with holistic and pragmatic parent-training initiatives. These, I think, would assist parents in particular, and school leaders, social workers and communities in general, to contrive a way to not only reduce and curb the scourge of crime and violence among young boys.

We need to find a way to adopt what Dr Mamphele Ramphele outlines as "nurturing children appropriately within shared value systems through rewarding appropriate behaviour and punishing or discouraging bad behaviour".

The 42-page National School Safety Framework (NSSF) designed by the department of basic education, in conjunction with the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, provides guidelines and measures to tackle the ruthless episodes of violence and aggression in our schools.

It is quite regrettable that government does not prioritise safety of teachers, pupils and relevant stakeholders in schools as this framework is poorly implemented in most of our schools.

As long as there are no any formulated safety plans and appropriate remedial and preventative interventions, the school sector will sink deeper into the mire and teachers and pupils will always be at the considerable risk of being victimised and possibly murdered on school premises.

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