Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) has expressed great shock over an incident in which a teacher was attacked and assaulted by a student at Madiba Senior Secondary School in Mahalapye during the week.
A video of the student assaulting the teacher at the school recently went viral on social media with the footage showing a group of students cheering on as their fellow student attacked the teacher.
Many on social media are of the view that the student should immediately be dismissed from school.
BOSETU laments that as a trade union, it has on several occasions raised an alarm to the powers-that-be about violence in schools, especially perpetrated by students against teachers.
In a press statement, the union Secretary General Tobokani Rari refers to a red flag the union raised in the end of 2019 statement.
“The year 2019 saw a worrying increase in incidences of student violence against teachers, and as such, have subjected teachers to hazardous working environment. We have seen students physically attacking teachers and injuring them. This, no doubt, is a phenomenon that greatly worries BOSETU as a union, and it is a matter that a national discourse needs to be opened around it. BOSETU has on numerous occasions called for the intensification of security in schools and the strengthening of the guidance and counselling units to address matters of behaviour modification and the use of habit – forming substances by students,” Rari says in the statement.
Rari also says BOSETU is of the view that the situation is brought about by a myriad of factors including amongst others, the collapse of the moral fibre in society, the non– functional guidance and counselling units in schools owing to negligence by system and rampant intrusion of drugs in school campuses. The union believes corporal punishment could help alleviate the situation.
“As BOSETU we would like to express our apprehensiveness on the stringent manner in which the Education Act regulates the application of corporal punishment in schools. Our view is that there is dire need to review the
Rari expresses concern about numerous cases in which schools would recommend for the expulsion of extremely errant students, following due process of disciplinary proceedings, only for such expulsion to be reversed by ministry management. They believe this has kept uncontrollable and highly undisciplined students who end up attacking teachers in schools.
BOSETU called upon the Ministry of Basic Education and the school authorities to urgently and decisively act to curb this issue of violence of students against teachers in schools by intensifying security services in hotspot schools, facilitating parents’ involvement in student discipline, and tightening up the penalties imposed on the perpetrators, including exclusion from school of the bully students.
Minister Fidelis Molao is of the view that, besides it being unacceptable, it is not a solution to bring security guards to schools as well as expelling them. “We do not have a blanket solution to these issues and deal with them case by case basis. Generally, there is a need for dialogue between school management, parents and students to minimise these incidents,” he said.
Molao says it would not be wise to have many security guards loitering in schools as it would not be conducive for a learning environment. Molaoadds that as the ministry responsible, they act on reports and recommendations as provided by schools and regions and avoid unnecessarily expelling students from school. “We try by all means to keep these students in schools because once you throw them into the streets they become delinquents and terrorise the society. Yes, in some cases we have no option but to expel the students,” he concludes.