The KwaZulu-Natal education department has revealed that cases of pupils being sexually and physical abused by teachers are on the rise.
It also revealed that the number of teachers being attacked or verbally abused at schools was increasing.
In a parliamentary response to the DA, it said 20 sexual assault cases and 30 physical assault cases had been recorded in the province in 2016/17.
In the last financial year, 33 sexual assault and 22 physical assault cases were recorded. About 231 pupils had been referred for counselling.
“One case of sexual or physical abuse of a pupil by a teacher is one too many. This information points directly to our young people being failed on so many levels,” said DA spokesperson on education, Rishigen Viranna.
He said schools should be a place of learning and safety, but it appeared that criminality was endemic.
“We also acknowledge that many teachers have the best interests of pupils at heart, and it is extremely alarming to hear of such cases (of teacher abuse).”
Viranna said the department should deal with security issues by filling security guard vacancies.
He also said that a teacher sex offenders’ list should be created so that schools and provincial departments could vet teachers to avoid sex pests moving from one province to another.
The department said in the parliamentary response that the National School Safety framework was in place.
It said about 73300 pupils had been addressed on issues of safety and bullying, and about 1199 teachers had been trained on the guidelines for the management of child abuse, neglect and exploitation for public schools in the province.
With regard to teachers being abused, in total 16 teachers reported abuse, with the most reports coming from uMkhanyakude area, with six, followed by four in uThukela district.
Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said they were concerned about the violence and bad behaviour and needed the help of communities to deal with it, saying that incidents playing out in schools were a reflection of social ills.
“We have reached a point where abnormal things have been normalised; there is no sense of shame any more,” he said.
Khethelo Goba, the provincial secretary of the Congress of South African Students, said the Education Department should increase the number of security guards at schools from one to three. And that parents should take the lead in protecting their children.
Themba Ndhlovu, of the SA Council of Educators, said they were concerned about the increase in attacks on teachers.
“This is about a lack of respect. Children do not fear anyone. Parents need to play their role, as primary education and discipline takes place at home.”