18 June 2019

South Africa: Violence Begets Violence - and Arming Teachers Is Not the Answer, Experts Agree


School violence came under the spotlight at a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Pretoria, with participants agreeing that neither arming teachers nor reintroducing corporal punishment were solutions.

The Press Club discussion on 18 June 2019 came in the wake of two recent incidents: on 3 June, 19-year-old pupil Mohamed Mwela allegedly stabbed Daniel Bakwela, 16, to death and injured two others outside Forest Hill High School in Turffontein, Johannesburg; and on 12 June, the Educators' Union of South Africa (Eusa) called for teachers to be armed to protect themselves. Their call came after a teacher, Sboniso Nyawose, was shot dead at Masuku Primary School in KZN on 10 June.

Representatives of the department of basic education were invited to the panel discussion but failed to attend.

Allowing teachers to carry firearms is a punitive approach that could send the message to pupils that violence is the solution, and SA Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) deputy general secretary Nkosana Dolopi reiterated during the discussion that "teachers should not be armed".

Catholic Institute of Education knowledge and research manager Cullen Mackenzie said a punitive approach should not be used as all it does is incite violence.

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