MPUMALANGA, South Africa – A primary school in Mpumalanga where a teacher allegedly put his hand on a pupil’s private parts more than once.
Three of the complainant’s schoolmates also testified against the teacher at a hearing conducted by an arbitrator assigned by the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), a bargaining council serving the public education sector to maintain labour peace, which was finalised in August.
One of the pupils testified that he would kiss and hug her. Another testified that the same teacher would touch her legs and buttocks, while the fourth pupil testified that the teacher touched her breasts.
The alleged incidents happened at a primary school in Mpumalanga between 2016 and 2018.
The ELRC dismissed the offender this month.
His name, according to the ELRC award – seen by City Press – was forwarded to the department of social development for the offender to be deemed unsuitable to work with children.
Cindy Foca, ELRC general secretary, said on Friday that the council had also submitted similar awards of offenders found guilty of sexual misconduct to the SA Council for Educators (Sace), a regulatory body for teachers with the power to blacklist offenders.Last year the Sace released a report which detailed that between 2016 and 2017, more than 90 incidents of sexual misconduct involving teachers, including rape
“The council has submitted 22 awards to date. In addition, it submitted the awards to the department of social development for the names of these teachers to be included in the National Child Protection Register,” Foca said.
This comes amid shocking statistics released in Parliament by Ella Mokgalane, Sace CEO, last week that sexual abuse by teachers on pupils had risen by more than 230% since 2014.
Themba Ndhlovu, Sace spokesperson, also told City Press on Friday that over the past two years, KwaZulu-Natal had recorded the highest number of reported sexual assault cases by teachers on pupils, with a total of 19 reported cases in 2017/18 and 21 in 2018/19.
Gauteng came second, with 13 reported in 2017/18 and 21 in 2018/19.
Ndhlovu said these shocking statistics were also due to an increase in reporting of cases.
“With more and more people becoming aware of Sace, there is an increased reporting of cases. However, this does not mean that there is increased abuse. In the past, there were cases of sexual abuse but they were under-reported,” he explained.
He added that although most of the reported cases of sexual assault were carried out by teachers aged 45-54, younger teachers were also liable.
Last year the Sace released a report which detailed that between 2016 and 2017, more than 90 incidents of sexual misconduct involving teachers, including rape‚ were reported.
The organisation, which aims to enhance the status of the teaching profession through appropriate registration and management of professional development, subsequently announced that as of January this year, new teachers registering with them have to present a police clearance certificate.
“Every person coming to register with us, or update his or her details on the system – or even a person coming to renew his or her registration – is expected to present a police clearance certificate,” Ndhlovu said.
He conceded that this was not a foolproof plan, but said it was a step in the right direction.
Besides the law taking its course in relation to teachers found guilty of sexual misconduct, Ndhlovu said it was imperative to ensure that such individuals never taught again.
“If a teacher is found guilty of sexual assault against a pupil, the teacher’s name gets removed from the roll of teachers. Their name gets submitted to the department of social development and is listed on the register of persons unfit to work with children. The name of the teacher is also submitted to his or her employer. In the event that the teacher is still employed, he or she is deemed to have resigned as of the date of the removal of their name from the roll by Sace. The employer is obligated to terminate the teacher’s employment in terms of section 15(2) of the Sace Act,” explained Ndhlovu.
He added that although most of the pupils reporting sexual assaults had been girls, there were also a few cases reported by boys.
Should teachers be found guilty of sexual misconduct be banned from teaching for life, or should they be allowed to resume teaching if they agree to rehabilitate themselves by undergoing therapy?
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