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Johannesburg - A teacher was suspended for allegedly using corporal punishment to discipline pupils at the Lugobe High school near Umbumbulu on the South Coast, the KwaZulu-Natal education department said on Tuesday.
The teacher was suspended on Monday for allegedly using a plastic pipe to discipline pupils who were late for school, spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said.
He said it was a criminal offence for teachers to use corporal punishment and the department would deal with such incidents “harshly” and “accordingly”.
“We take a zero-tolerance approach to educators who are found to use corporal punishment.”
Mahlambi said corporal punishment incidents in schools were reported every week since the beginning of the school year.
“This is a very serious matter, if you look at the number of times that such cases are reported,” he said.
Mahlambi said the department would do everything possible to protect school pupils.
“The head of the education department had re-issued a circular to educators to remind them that corporal punishment would not be tolerated,” he said.
The use of corporal punishment was banned in public schools and teachers who practised it were breaking the law, said Childline National executive officer Dumisile Nala.
“Children's rights are human rights which are enshrined in the Constitution,” said Nala.
She said children had the right to be protected in a school environment and educators who violated this right should be reported.
Communication between the pupils, parents, schools, the department and organisations was key to addressing corporal punishment incidents.
“All the concerned entities should engage with pupils to understand their behaviour and to address the problem adequately,” said Nala.
Schools should also create a code of conduct and educate teachers on how to deal with discipline issues in schools.
“We need to look at practical and possible solutions in dealing with discipline issues in a school environment, as inappropriate behaviour cannot continue,” said Nala.
She suggested time-outs and written punishment as alternatives for pupils who were disruptive.
Parents should also install discipline in their children and speak to them to understand their behaviour.
“Parents need to make more time for their children because some times they just need someone to speak to,” said Nala.