Bullying is exacerbated by the teachers’ failure to observe the duty of care, expert says
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta says bullying at schools is exacerbated by teachers’ failure to observe the duty of care as per the law prescribes.
Makaneta called on the Department of Basic Education to enforce the duty of care in schools across the country.
“The duty of care is a legal obligation which should be imposed on teachers and it requires adherence so that learners are safe at all times. Most public schools experience bullying of learners because of the inability of teachers to observe the duty of care.” Makaneta said.
Makanetha said the education system was not proactive when it comes to the general safety of pupils at schools. He said it was more reactionary instead.
“The Basic Education minister should insist that teachers adhere to the duty of care at all times because in the absence of parents, teachers assume the role of parents in the terrain of education. Once this role is neglected, there will be anarchy in schools. The problem of drug abuse by learners could be defeated if both teachers and parents can effectively observe the duty of care,” he said.
Makaneta added the department should prioritise the deployment of Learner Support Agents (LSA) in almost all the schools in the country.
“In many schools there are no break duties. Learners are often left on their own. This unbecoming tendency to leave learners unattended is a breeding ground for acts of bullying and high levels of ill-discipline,” he said.
The activist acknowledged that it may be hard for teachers as they do not have the capacity to recognise some of the underlying problems faced by pupils but as a rule, teachers have to show care and support the pupils in the same way that they show care for their own children.
Makaneta’s remarks follows the recent suicide of a Limpopo teen, Lufuno Mavhunga, after she was beaten by a fellow pupil and the incident was captured on video which later went viral.
The perpetrator has since been arrested, but the school principal on the other hand was found to not have taken appropriate steps to intervene when he was made aware of the bullying. This is according to the South African Human Rights Commission’s preliminary findings.