Calls to arm teachers slated

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has vehemently rejected calls for teachers to be armed with weapons on school premises, describing the appeal as “irresponsible, reckless and dangerous”.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the department said the call would only escalate the violence “that is already causing huge distress among our teachers, learners and the community in general”.

The reaction comes after the Educators Union of South Africa argued that the arming of teachers would curb attacks on educators.

“The union that has called for teachers to be armed is not a recognised union in the basic education sector,” department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said.

He said the DBE is, however, extremely concerned about the escalating violence in schools that has claimed the lives of teachers and learners.

“The majority of cases we observed indicate that unresolved issues led to the violent attacks. Furthermore, the attacks have widely occurred outside school premises. We have also observed the rise in gang-related activity involving learners and violent incidents ending in unnecessary loss of life.

“The department is very concerned that the violence has increasingly spilled into schools, causing untold emotional trauma and disruption to the learning and teaching environment,” Mhlanga said.

Various interventions have been introduced by the department to curb school violence and bullying. Among these is the long-standing protocol agreement with the South African Police Service. The agreement sees 18 000 schools linked to police stations within their vicinity. The agreement entails the police conducting random visits to educate learners about the dangers of crime and violence, starting with bullying.

Mhlanga said the department has also developed a conduct of ethics for learners which, among other things, says a learner is expected to:

  • accept that the main reason for being in school is to learn and develop academically, socially and culturally;
  • adhere to school rules;
  • respect the legitimacy and authority of teachers;
  • participate in Learner Representative Councils (LRCs) to safeguard your interests;
  • show respect to other learners and not discriminate; and
  • avoid anti-social behaviour like theft, vandalism, assault, sexual harassment, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as other activities that disrupt the learning process.

Mhlanga said the department is deeply concerned that despite the measures, the anti-violence strategy appears not to be yielding results.

“The strategy require all stakeholders to play their part in making sure that the policies and guidelines are effectively implemented. Crime prevention and the teaching of positive values and morals require a joint effort from all stakeholders, as the violent tendencies are not just a direct influence, but emanate from society.” –