Sans Souci Girls High School – ill discipline will not be tolerated, but corporal punishment is unacceptable

6 February 2019

Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer

I am aware of a video that is circulating on social media of an incident between a learner and an educator at Sans Souci Girls High School during class time.

I want to state categorically that the actions of the educator are unacceptable. Any form of corporal punishment in our schools will not be tolerated.

Officials of the WCED visited the school this morning. As the teacher in the video is an SGB appointee, the SGB is meeting today to discuss the disciplinary steps going forward.

An investigation into the incident is also underway. The investigation will determine whether the learner will also face disciplinary action. Learners in the class have been asked to make a statement regarding the events that led up to the incident. There is further video evidence that has been edited out of the version being circulated.

I am aware that some commentators on social media platforms are immediately assuming that the incident is race related. While I understand their anger at the images displayed on the edited version of the video, we cannot assume that this was racially motivated.  We ask that the public allow the SGB to investigate the incident before such conclusions are made.

This morning, learners at the school held a peaceful protest in Assembly in support of the educator, stating that the incident was not race related (see photo attached).  It is this important that we establish all the facts.

We are very aware of the many disciplinary challenges our educators face daily in our schools, however, the use of violence to deal with learners that show signs of behavioural issues or are ill-disciplined cannot be tolerated. 

The South African Schools Act (SASA), 1996 (Act 84 of 1996) and the National Education Policy Act (NEPA), 1996 (Act 27 of 1996) clearly bans corporal punishment in our schools.

Through the school’s code of conduct, schools should state clearly what kinds of behaviour are unacceptable. Should a learner transgress, then the school has the right to discipline the learner. 

The WCED will support schools that ensure that the relevant disciplinary procedures are followed when it comes to any form of violence or antisocial behaviour in our schools. This is because we take a zero tolerance stance on learners that transgress various disciplinary codes by attacking or assaulting their fellow learners or educators. 

At the same time, we ask that educators exercise control when confronted with issues of ill-discipline.

It has been mentioned on many an occasion that educators feel unsure how to deal with discipline in their classroom. While there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to unruly behaviour in our schools, there are certain methods that can be adopted to deal with different circumstances.

There are two documents that outline how one can discipline learners, without using corporal punishment:

Alternatives to corporal punishment: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/sites/www.westerncape.gov.za/files/documents/2005/7/alternatives_corporal_punishmen.pdf

Learner discipline and school management: https://wcedonline.westerncape.gov.za/documents/LearnerDiscipline/Learner_Discipline_and_School_Management.pdf

There are a number of programmes in place for district-specific behaviour interventions. Districts are providing an array of skills training in alternative and restorative strategies to deal with learner discipline. Schools are encouraged to inform the district should they have training needs. 

Schools are to ensure that they are informed of the relevant guidelines to assist them in this regard. This includes, the WCED’s policy on Learner Discipline and School Management, as well as, the WCED Abuse no more protocol document.

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Media Enquiries:
Jessica Shelver
Tel: 021 483 6570
Cell: 076 175 0663
E-mail: Jessica.Shelver@westerncape.gov.za