Assault on Educators 

In a previous communication, NAPTOSA Gauteng strongly condemned any form of abuse of learners by educators, in whose care they have been entrusted.

There is, however, another stark reality in many schools that stakeholders in education have to condemn in the strongest terms possible, namely the assault of educators by learners.  The video clip currently doing the rounds and on which the MEC of Education commented and took action, confirms this reality.  This assault of an educator by a learner in Gauteng is not an isolated incident.  There are similar incidents almost every week, but most of these are not reported in the media. NAPTOSA Gauteng has this year received a number of reports of learners who throw chairs at educators, hit them, push them off their chairs, swear and spit at them, bully and intimidate them.  Of growing concern is the fact that these incidents include many primary school learners and educators. 

What is not generally acknowledged, and often ignored by the Gauteng Department of Education, is that educators have the right to dignity, respect, and more specifically, the right to protection in the workplace.  In terms of legislation, the Employer has a duty to protect employees.

NAPTOSA Gauteng is dismayed at the lack of support rendered to schools and individual educators where abusive and aggressive learners have been identified, where learners have assaulted educators or where teaching is continuously disrupted by learners who have no self-discipline and little or no respect for any authority.

The MEC of Education announced that the educator assaulted in the video clip would receive counselling, for which he should be commended.  He also indicated that the learner concerned would be subjected to a disciplinary process.  The feedback that NAPTOSA receives from its members is that a learner who returns to class after a suspension is often regarded by some fellow learners as a hero, while the educator he/she assaulted continues to feel humiliated.  The Department walks away, satisfied that they have done their duty.

Educators are expected to teach, to develop the potential of their learners, to complete a syllabus and assess learners on a regular basis. In some schools this is simply not possible. Some experienced educators with  impeccable service records are becoming disillusioned by what is happening in the classroom. Apart from the administrative burden placed on them by the Department, they are having to cope with ill-disciplined learners. As a result of unrelenting negative pressure, and with no direction or support from the Department on how to deal with ill-disciplined learners, some good hardworking educators rather resign or retire early. 

The education system in South Africa will not excel if the authorities, parents and society at large do not resolve to assist schools, educators and learners to deal with the scourge of disrespect and violent behaviour slowly taking over an increasing number of schools.