Recent images of a teacher hitting a pupil in class were circulated on social media, bringing corporal punishment into the spotlight.
The SA Council of Educators (Sace) says its advocacy work, aimed at promoting professionalism among teachers has not had the desired impact.

Several teachers have been cited for corporal punishment which is illegal and sexual abuse of pupils in their care, despite awareness programmes to reduce the levels of misconduct.

The Western Cape led the pack with 286 of the overall complaints followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 89, Gauteng 70, Mpumalanga 48, Eastern Cape 29, Free State 27 and North West and Limpopo 25.

Corporal punishment topped the list of 593 complaints nationally, with at least 265 cases.

This was followed by 122 cases of the use of improper language and alcohol abuse, 113 of harassment and verbal abuse and 99 cases of rape or love relations with pupils.

The report listed corporal punishment as rampant in the Western Cape at 168, followed by KwaZulu-Natal 25, Gauteng 23 and Mpumalanga 19, with the other provinces each having 10 or less cases.

“We have, however, noted that the trends still remain the same. This year has not been different from the past financial year,” the report read.

It said there was a “slight increase” in misconduct cases involving corporal punishment, sexual abuse pupils, assault of teachers and submission of fraudulent qualifications, among others.

During the yearly workshops, 11922 codes of professional ethics were given to teachers and 33660 charts on ethics distributed to schools.

“Despite the amount of advocacy having been carried out, it is evident that many educators are still applying corporal punishment and some still abuse learners sexually,” the report said.

“Saddening is still the physical assault between colleagues.”

Sace said only 52 teachers were found guilty during disciplinary hearings, with only two acquitted.

Of those found guilty, 21 were indefinitely struck off as teachers, five may re-apply after a certain period and 26 had their dismissals suspended for a certain time.

Sace noted that there were six disciplinary cases that were withdrawn because of the lack of co-operation from parents or legal guardians.

Some parents refused the Sace access to their children though there were strong cases against the suspects.

It described this as one of the biggest challenges that was “too rife and never cease to rear its ugly head” when it came to finalisation of cases.

Teachers were also blamed for contributing to non-completion in some cases.

“Some educators are sent to a learner’s family to negotiate with the parents in order to derail our investigation and/ or disciplinary hearings,” the report said.

“In some cases, the abusers would end up being referred to as sons-in-law.

“This would leave the Sace with no choice but to withdraw many serious cases against perpetrators,” the report said.

Political Bureau