Can return of corporal punishment bring discipline in schools?
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“We fought against corporal punishment when we were in Cosas (Congress of SA Students) but the burning question is if this is helping us in our schools,” Mkongi said.
“Students are not listening, they are drinking and using drugs in schools, they carry dangerous weapons and stabbing teachers and they do not have respect. What is the way forward?”
Mkongi was speaking at the School Safety Summit held at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg on Wednesday.
The Gauteng provincial government held the summit following recent incidents of bullying and gangsterism as well as violence among and against learners and educators in schools.
In response to Mkongi's statement, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said violence should not be encouraged and there needed to be alternative mechanisms for punishment.
“An eye for an eye makes all of us blind, and you don't use violence to resolve problems because we're going to turn the entire situation into a violent situation,” Lesufi said.
The summit was held under the theme "Safer schools to support learning and teaching".
Multiple stakeholders, including the Gauteng government, the SA Police Service, school principals and governing bodies, and representative councils of learners, came together to address the ongoing instability at schools.
Lesufi said the aim was to bring the stakeholders together to come up with principles to stamp out violence on school premises.
“We're sitting ducks. Criminals robbed one of our schools in Midrand, gangsters can come to a school and do as they wish, so let us find the buffer that can protect us,” he said.
Wandile Makhubo, the principal of Unity Secondary School in Daveyton, said most gangster activities in his area was seasonal and occurred outside the school premises.
“It can quieten down for a while, and when it's about to be winter, they go to initiation schools, and when they come back it begins,” he said.
In August last year, a 17-year-old accused of being a gang member was set alight outside the school, he said.
A resident, Colin Khumalo, said parents needed to be more present in their children's lives and discipline them.
“We want to protect the criminals in our homes and we don't want to look at them in their eyes and say ‘You are wrong’. It has to start with us as parents,” he said.
The summit was attended by about 3 000 stakeholders, including Gauteng Premier David Makhura, MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi- Malobane, Lesufi, Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty, school principals, school governing body members, organised labour, representative councils of learners and student movements.