REFORM:  The Department of Basic Education has proposed that the minister be empowered to prescribe how the hiring of teachers should be done. File picture: THE TIMES
File picture: THE TIMES

VIOLENCE against teachers at the hands of pupils contributes to the unnecessary exodus of teachers from the profession.

This is the sentiment of teacher unions and the South African Council for Educators (SACE) following the emergence of a video of what appears to be three high school pupils manhandling a teacher inside a classroom.

According to the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and National Professional Teacher’s Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa)‚ there is not enough support available for teachers abused by pupils.

READ THIS: Hundreds of teachers picket about overcrowding in KwaZulu-Natal schools

Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said the union was concerned about the safety of teachers in schools‚ adding that teachers needed more trauma counselling as some became depressed after incidents of abuse.

"Unless documented‚ cases of teachers being abused by pupils are under-reported or go unreported due to teachers’ shame and fear after such incidents‚" Cembi said.

At the end of its national general council in 2013‚ the union adopted a resolution that called for an end of violence against teachers‚ including the creation of a national violence against teachers registry. The union said the registry had not yet materialised.

Naptosa president Basil Manuel attributed the incidents of violence against teachers and the lack of discipline on the part of pupils to a breakdown in the authority of teachers in the classroom.

"In many cases‚ teachers are penalised for being violent against pupils‚ but the same vigour isn’t applied when the shoe is on the other foot. The response is never let’s protect our teachers‚" said Manuel.

SACE CEO Raj Brijraj said the discipline of pupils in the country was a "big problem"‚ and it appeared as if pupils were taking advantage.

The 20-second clip‚ brought to the attention of Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Sunday‚ shows three pupils in school uniform tackling a teacher — who tries to free himself from their grip throughout the clip.

Gauteng education spokesman Oupa Bodibe said the department was in the process of establishing at which school the incident took place.

Bodibe said the pupils involved faced possible expulsion should a disciplinary hearing find them guilty of assaulting the teacher.

"We have zero tolerance for the assault of teachers by pupils and vice versa‚ as well as the disrespect of teachers by pupils‚" he added.

TMG Digital