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School CP - February 2004

Corpun file 12972

East London Daily Dispatch, 27 February 2004

Discipline problem at schools

By Madoda Dyonana

EAST LONDON - Some schools in the province [Eastern Cape -- C.F.] have reported difficulties in keeping discipline since the government abolished corporal punishment in 1996.

Principals contacted in a Dispatch telephone survey yesterday urged the Education Department to review legislation to assist them deal with the situation.

According to Professor Isak Oosthuizen at the Potchefstroom campus of the University of North West, who has been researching discipline in schools since 2002, nearly 80 percent of a group of pupils said they did not feel safe at school gates, in toilets or on the school grounds.

The research, reported on a news website, targeted 30 schools in the North West, Western Cape, Free State and Eastern Cape.

Nokuhle Peter, principal of Bongolethu High School at Kwelera, urged the department to reintroduce the punishment but under strict conditions.

"We've tried to come up with innovative measures like giving them tasks as a form of punishment, but it seems not to be working," said Peter.

George Randell High principal Charles Foster said that there was a tendency for parents and learners to misinterpret the provisions of the Bill of Rights.

"I believe there is a place for corporal punishment only if it's applied correctively to help influence good behaviour," he said.

However, Foster said it was important to keep learners occupied and to inculcate a culture of respect.

Ithembelihle Public School principal Zolisa Vokwana, of Stutterheim, said that educators still needed to be empowered in ways of dealing with such a matter. He said they had developed a scientific approach of sensitising learners to learn the principle of right or wrong. SA Democratic Teachers' Union provincial secretary Mxolisi Dimaza suggested that schools needed to develop an inclusive code of conduct that would address their challenges.

"We believe that corporal punishment can never change learner behaviour but instead teachers should create good relations in schools," he added.

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