Attempted murder, stabbing, assault, intimidation, theft, drug-dealing, sexual violence… It sounds like the charge sheet at any magistrate’s court. In fact, it is a list of offences that have led to disciplinary action against hundreds of schoolchildren in the past year.
Limpopo education officials alone have handled 942 cases of serious pupil misconduct in the past 12 months. Since January last year Gauteng schools have expelled 151 children, 31 of them for assaulting teachers and other school staff.
Gauteng education department spokesman Steve Mabona said: “When you expel a learner, he must within a certain period be introduced into another school. He’s still a child who is at a school-going age so, constitutionally, the [law] does not allow for the child to be permanently removed from school.”
One Pretoria high school teacher told the Sunday Times that she was considering a new career after a pupil punched her around the head and face.
Teachers’ union Naptosa said members often felt humiliated when perpetrators of misconduct were treated as heroes by their peers when they returned to class after suspension.
Mpumalanga education department spokesman Jasper Zwane said parental apathy frequently undermined schools’ attempts to deal with troublemakers.
“Some of the parents do not pitch when they are invited to observe the disciplinary processes … making it difficult for schools to instil corrective measures.”