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Schools in South Africa are becoming more violent

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has called on law enforcement agencies to help quell the recent spate of violence which has rocked schools in South Africa.

Schools in South Africa are becoming more violent and dangerous for both teachers and learners.

The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, admits that the recent spate of stabbings and attacks at learning institutions across South Africa is cause for major concern. Due to the rising levels of school-based violence, Motshekga has called for an urgent meeting with law enforcement departments.

In just over a month, 800 000 pupils in 8000 centres around the country will undertake their National Senior Certificate exams. With a disturbing antisocial trend manifesting in these centres, Motshekga has toyed with the idea of increasing security measures around examination centres, which may include the presence of police officers.

Yet, despite concerns surrounding learner and teacher safety, Motshekga remains confident that examination procedures will run smoothly, with the relevant systems in place to dispel violence and test leaks which have marred previous Senior Certificate assessments.

Speaking to Cape Talk Radio, Motshekga offered comment on the recent spate of attacks, saying:

“It is extremely concerning and very disheartening. We have programs that we, on an on-going basis, are dealing with the department of police and the department of social development. It’s quite clear we have a big problem.

There is a correlation between high levels of criminality in the community which is transported into schools. Guns come from communities; the knifing [and] the anger comes from communities. We as society need to sit down and say: ‘what more do we need to do to support our schools?’”
North West stabbing leaves teacher dead
Gadimang Mokolobate, a 24-year-old maths teacher, was stabbed to death by a 17-year old pupil in a classroom in Zeerust, North West.

The vicious attack took place last week, in full view of fellow pupils during a preliminary examination. It’s speculated that the attack came as a result of the teacher reprimanding the learner for ill-disciplined behaviour the day before.

Eldorado Park learner points gun at teacher
According to News24, a 15-year-old pupil from Eldorado Park, Johannesburg was arrested last week Thursday, after pointing a gun at his teacher and threatening to shoot.

While it’s been alleged that the gun used was, in fact, a toy, the trauma caused to the teacher involved cannot be understated. Police spokesperson, Captain Thinandavha Lufhugu, says the altercation stemmed from the teacher reprimanding the learner over a uniform infringement:

“He wore the beanie and the teacher confronted him again, asking him to take it off. Instead of taking it off, he pulled out a gun… It’s a toy gun but it uses pellets, which can cause harm.”

School violence a nationwide problem
The aforementioned cases are just recent examples of violent attacks on teachers. Yet, weekly, amateur videos filmed during school hours appear on social media, showing vicious brawls, mostly involving students, but also targeting educators.

Worryingly, these violent pandemic points to a broader concern within the education system; this past weekend, two university students in KwaZulu-Natal were stabbed to death.

These recent attacks have been condemned by all major governing bodies and political entities, with the African National Congress (ANC) and affiliated Trade Unions calling for heightened security at schools across the country.

As reported by IOL, ANC Chairperson Nomalungelo Gina said:

“As the ANC structure responsible for oversight in the Basic Education Sector, we are very concerned about the surge of violence that seems to be on the rise in our schools.

Our schools are meant to be safe havens for both the learner and the teacher, where learning and development takes place. The education of our learners is a societal issue and needs parents and communities to play a central role in instilling a sense of right and wrong in our children.”
Most political parties, education stakeholders and ordinary members of the public agree that the issue of violence at schools is a knock-on effect of community-based violence perpetuated throughout society, but especially apparent in impoverished areas whereby trauma manifests as a result of inhibitions and disillusionment.

Quoting The Star editor, Japhet Ncube, who recently penned a piece concerning school violence in South Africa and the disconnect between active parenting and discipline:

“I doubt their parents even know where they are or what they get up to. Until there’s a shooting or a stabbing at school, by which time parenting has failed.

If I tried to stop the 14-year-old boy smoking and drinking at Gandhi Square, I would probably get stabbed or shot.

Our kids have become criminals. It’s a reflection on us as a country.”

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