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Media Release

21 August, 2007

MEC Dugmore lauds Learner Behaviour Management Manual

Western Cape Education MEC Cameron Dugmore has lauded the production of a manual on Learner Behaviour Management, an initiative of its Northern Education Management and Development Centre (EMDC).

The manual was presented at a cocktail function last night (Monday 20 August), attended by senior officials from the department's head office and other district offices, as well as principals and teachers.

MEC Dugmore indicated that officials from the head office will work with the district office, to see how the manual can be even further developed, to make it available as a resource and tool for all schools in the province.

The producers of the document say the main objective is to provide a framework for the establishment of structures in schools for the effective management of healthy, positive discipline.

Key features of the manual include:

  1. How to develop, implement and maintain a supportive and restorative Code of Conduct for learners.
  2. Duties and responsibilities of role payers, including principal, learners and parents.
  3. The establishment of support systems to deal with learner offences.

Each school will receive a copy and a CD with the information in all three languages. The manual contains pamphlets on 15 different topics and is developed in such a way that important additional information can be added, in order to build up a school portfolio on school discipline.

Principals, deputies and teachers will be introduced and specific training and support of educators will then take place over a period of three years.

EMDC North Director Barry Volschenk says that learner behaviour problems have, for years, been a major concern for teachers, administrators and parents. "More than ever before, teachers are faced with critical problems in their classrooms, and are confronted (on a daily basis) with unacceptable learner behaviour and threatening situations.

"After the abolishment of the old system of corporal punishment and control, an urgent need arose to deal with behavioural issues in innovative ways. The new approach to positive behavioural support represents a shift from a focus on deficit and control, towards a developmental and restorative approach."

Said MEC Dugmore: "Very often in situations involving learner disciplinary issues, we tend to focus our solution-seeking efforts on the child, and very often we neglect the needs of the parents and educators.

"In June 1995 the Court ruled corporal punishment unconstitutional on the ground that it violates dignity and it violates the right not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.

"The effect of this is that whipping is no longer a punishment that the courts may impose, and it was subsequently, and rightly so, banned as a practice in schools. The effect of this was that, teachers who only knew one method of discipline, suddenly felt confused, they felt frustrated, and resigned themselves to be without power.

"Coupled this with the fact that children have rapidly become aware of their human rights, they have started to test the boundaries of discipline to the extreme.

"And perhaps this is the crux of the matter, that for over centuries force and physical coercion were seen as a form of "authority" and the only way of asserting yourself.

"A lot of it has to do with the history of our country and how it has shaped the daily lives of men, women and families. Coupled with poverty and a plethora of other social pathologies, violence in whatever form, was seen as an easy way to deal with challenging situations, including "difficult children".

"I am sure every principal and teacher have at some point in their teaching career been confronted with the fragile ego, the unpredictable mind or the emotional outburst of children of various ages in various stages of his or her life.

"I am sure at some stage in your teaching career you have been confronted with the audacity of some teenagers, their constant challenge to authority, and perhaps even defiance or downright criminal behaviour.

"I think this document provides an excellent framework for the establishment of structures in schools for the effective management of healthy, positive discipline. I'm happy that it is in all three languages.

"I want to congratulate the EMDC North Director Mr Barry Volschenk and thank Neville Goliath, Bridget Goosen, Johan Pretorius, Sura Swart and Koos Theron, for the sterling work and contribution towards better education."

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by:
Gert Witbooi
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689

Visit our website: http://wced.wcape.gov.za

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