Reply by Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, on questions posed in the National Assembly for written reply
28 Jun 2010
Question No. 1668
Dr JC Kloppers-Lourens (Democratic Alliance) to ask the Minister of Basic Education:
(1) Whether she or her department has any plan to stop bullying in schools; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) Whether her department has a policy document that provides guidance to educators on how to deal with bullying in schools; if not, (a) why not, (b) when is it envisaged for such a document to be developed and (c) what guidelines are used in the absence of such a document; if so, (i) what are the relevant details and (ii) where can a copy of the document be obtained;
(3) (a) What is the role of educators in addressing this problem and (b) what (i) information and (ii) training does her department provide;
(4) Whether the curriculum provides for (a) discouraging learners to participate in bullying activities, (b) informing learners of the dangers of such a culture, (c) guiding learners to develop coping strategies and (d) punishing offending learners; if not, why not, in each case; if so, what are the relevant details in each case?
1. Bullying is an offence, a violation of a child's right to physical and psychological safety and is in direct contrast with my department's objective to create safe, caring and child-friendly schools.
In order to curb incidences of bullying in schools, my department has developed an example code of conduct for learners to guide school governing bodies (SGBs), principals and teachers to draw up their own context specific codes of conduct for learners.
Section 8(4) of the South Africa Schools Act provides that the code of conduct of a school binds all learners attending a school. All learners are expected to sign a statement of commitment to the code of conduct.
The administration of the code of conduct is the responsibility of the disciplinary committee of the school.
2. (i) The exemplar code of conduct for learners addresses inappropriate learner behaviour, such as bullying and describes the disciplinary system to be implemented by the school concerning transgressions by learners.
The code of conduct applies to all learners while they are on the school premises or when they are away from the school representing it or attending a school function.
Schools are therefore responsible to provide an environment for the delivery of quality teaching and learning by promoting the rights and safety of all learners, teachers and parents; ensuring learners' responsibility for their own actions and behaviours; prohibiting all forms of unfair discrimination and intolerance and eliminating disruptive and offensive conduct.
Furthermore, my department has implemented the Hlayiseka early warning system, which serves as a tool for SGBs, principals, teachers, learners and parents to identify and manage risks and threats of violence.
The key pillars of this system include the development and integration of physical, reactive and proactive systems to ensure safe and healthy schools.
A learner survey form is provided to identify incidences of bullying, the immediate impact thereof and coping strategies applied by learners to put an end to bullying.
The survey on bullying provides schools with an indication of the prevalence thereof amongst learners and to develop intervention strategies to combat bullying.
In March 2010 my department has trained nine schools, which are part of a ministerial pilot project on Positive Discipline and Classroom Management.
The programme not only focuses on the notion of disciplining learners but also includes issues such as accepting responsibility for their behaviour, respect the rights of others, solving of problems through negotiation, making choices and decisions that will benefit themselves or that are in the best interest of others.
It is envisaged that provinces will roll out this programme to schools.
2. (ii) The code of conduct has been distributed to all provinces for further distribution and implementation to schools. An electronic copy of the code of conduct has been uploaded on the departmental website.
Hard copies are available in provincial and district offices within the units responsible for school safety. Provinces have since 2007 rolled out and implemented the Hlayiseka early warning system to identified schools.
3. (a) The code of conduct includes a list offences that learners should not commit and has graded these according to degree and intensity. The list is coupled with corresponding corrective sanctions.
The role of educators is to ensure that for every offence a learner commits, a corresponding corrective sanction is carried out with that particular learner.
(b) In terms of bullying or any other inappropriate behaviour by learners, schools take the responsibility to deal with it in terms of the code of conduct for Learners. Either district or provincial education officials support schools in terms of information and training programme.
4. (a) Life orientation as a compulsory learning area addresses through the teaching of life skills all behaviour that infringes upon the dignity and well being of others in a comprehensive way. This focuses on both potential victim and perpetrator.
(b) and (c) It is through the teaching of life skills and transfer of knowledge that learners are informed and empowered to develop the necessary coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with behaviour that infringes on their rights and well being.
(d) Disciplinary measures against bulling are executed in terms of the code of conduct for Learners.
Source: Department of Basic Education
Issued by: Department of Basic Education
28 Jun 2010
[ Top ]