Hate speech 'not vital' in school code

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Cape Town - Some educationists do not believe it is necessary for schools’ codes of conduct to implicitly state

that pupils found guilty of hate speech or racial discrimination should be expelled.

This in response to the SA Human Rights Commission’s recommendation that a school’s code of conduct specifically mention expulsion in these cases.

Tim Gordon, chief executive of the Governing Body Foundation, said punishment should not be “prescriptive” but individually determined.

“I don’t believe it is ever appropriate to have a fixed response. There are always circumstances to take into account.”

National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA president Basil Manuel said making that change to the code of conduct would not automatically result in behavioural change.

“Including it in the code of conduct is neither here nor there. It’s how you apply it that matters. We believe prescribing what behaviour leads to expulsion is one thing. Applying it is another.”

The commission recently ruled on a matter which occurred four years ago in a hostel of Queen’s College in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. A white Grade 11 pupil had asked a black Grade 10 pupil: “Why are you staring at me, k*****?”

The commission had found the school’s punishment of 10 demerit points, counselling and an apology was “not proportional to the offence committed and as thus the sanction not adequate”.

It recommended “that the sanction for such offence be explicitly stipulated on the code of conduct”.

“Further, the sanction imposed should take cognisance of the seriousness of hate speech and be proportional to the offence. The commission further recommends that the code of conduct explicitly mention expulsion as a possibility in cases of racial misbehaviour.”

Asked whether the Department of Basic Education would recommend all schools add this to their code of conduct, spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said: “We are currently reviewing the South African Schools Act.”

michelle.jones@inl.co.za

Cape Times


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