Sadtu blames assaults on teachers on Cosas’ call for pupils to retaliate if beaten

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Bongani Mthethwa

The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in KwaZulu-Natal has blamed the escalation in attacks on teachers by pupils on a call by the Congress of SA Students (Cosas) for school children to retaliate if beaten.

The teachers’ union has called on Cosas to take full responsibility and do something about a spate of recent incidents which included the murder of a North West teacher who was allegedly stabbed to death by a pupil while another teacher in Gauteng was threatened with a gun by a pupil.

Sadtu’s KZN provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said the surge in violent incidents in schools where “brutality amongst pupils and also gruesome attacks directed to pupils by outsiders and pupils to educators is both unbelievable and unfortunate”.

While Caluza mainly attributed violence in schools to societal problems‚ she reserved a hard stick for Cosas after they issued a statement six years ago calling on students to retaliate when if they were beaten by teachers.

“We call on all students to fight fire with fire‚ when teachers hit you‚ you must hit back‚” said Cosas’ Ntsako Mogobe‚ who defended his statement‚ saying teachers were failing in their duty to teach.

But at a Sadtu media briefing in Durban on Tuesday on various issues‚ including violence in schools‚ Caluza took issue with Cosas and asked them to withdraw that statement.

“We think Cosas must do something because if we look back‚ since Cosas issued a statement that children must beat teachers and that was when this thing escalated. So Cosas itself has a job to do by talking to the children because the majority of them are Cosas members‚” she said.

“Cosas must take responsibility and talk openly and withdraw that statement‚ then we think something can happen.”

She said society also had a responsibility because violence in schools was a reflection of what was happening in society. She also called for a return to the old ways of an African proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child”.

“It’s a societal problem. Society itself must have programmes to resolve this thing. If we can go to the times when a child belonged to everyone in society‚ that would be better. When we grew up we knew that our parent was not only our biological parent.

“So even the way you behaved you did not behave just for your parent. Every parent and elder in the community had a responsibility of reprimanding a child who misbehaved. And parents should not shirk their responsibility to teachers because that’s the most serious problem teachers are faced with‚” said Caluza.

She said while the teachers’ union had called for the protection of teachers by providing schools with security guards‚ they had observed that these very people could not prevent killings in schools.

“They don’t have capacity and we have been raising this thing. Security guards can be appointed‚ they must be there just to control access to the school but they can’t search what you’re carrying because they do not have that mandate‚ which then exposes not only pupils and teachers‚ but even security guards themselves.”

But Cosas president John Macheke hit back at Sadtu‚ accusing the teachers’ union of being the cause of violence in schools by allegedly beating pupils despite corporal punishment being outlawed in the Schools Act of 1996. “Teachers are the ones who created monsters through corporal punishment. The violence that we’re having today is a result of corporal punishment. We are also having learners being sexually assaulted by teachers who are Sadtu. Teachers who beat learners in our schools are members of Sadtu.

“It cannot be then that we are the ones who are the cause of violence in schools. There is no parental care in schools. When we are in school we regard teachers as our parents but a person who disrespects me in the classroom is not a parent. They are the reason we are having violence in schools because they started ‘moering’ [beating] learners and we had to fight fire with fire‚” said Macheke.

He added that education was a societal issue and every one‚ including parents‚ teachers and learners‚ must come on board to deal with the issue of violence in schools.

“Education is a societal issue and everyone must come on board. We cannot be blamed because a learner has killed a teacher in North West. Sadtu must stop lying and they must go back to the drawing board as they are the cause of what is happening in schools‚ he said.

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