Teacher unions welcome police clearance certificate ruling. PICTURE: ThoughtCo
Durban - Teacher unions have welcomed a new strict registration requirement by the South African Council for Educators (Sace) that will not allow people to become teachers without producing a police clearance certificate from next year.

Sace spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu said they introduced the drastic measures as allegations of sexual assault cases against teachers spiked.

“What council is going to do in the process is address university students who see themselves in the teaching profession, members of society and teaching professionals, to make them fully aware so that everyone by next year is ready,” said Ndhlovu.

He said Sace reports showed that culprits implicated in sexual offences and harassment were mostly male teachers between the ages of 35 and 54. A total of 99 cases of misconduct were ­reported between 2016 and last year.

He said they also received rape cases involving teachers.

Currently teachers registering with Sace only have to indicate if they have a criminal record or not, but are not required to produce proof of this, said Ndhlovu.

“In the past all foreigners registering with Sace needed police clearance certificates, but now, with the increase in abuse cases, the body wants all members to do so.

“We are talking to the ­departments of social development and justice about gaining access to the national sex ­offenders register, and plans to conduct serious investigation of teachers are ongoing,” said Ndhlovu.

The National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA’s Basil Manuel said: “We support the decision with some reservations but acknowledge that systems must be put in place to ensure greater protection of our children.

“This is not enough to combat sexual cases as it is unlikely all predators will exhibit these traits. Continued measures must be put in place with greater vigilance to protect our children.”

The Mercury