In response to the escalating levels of violence in schools, Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) believes reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools could help.
The call follows the recent incident in which students allegedly assaulted and injured a male teacher at Lobatse Senior Secondary School (Lobsec). In an interview, BOSETU’s secretary-general, Tobokani Rari said it is unfortunate that schools now operate with ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ approach.
He said the recent incident in which a teacher was assaulted at Lobsec reflects the growing violence against teachers in schools occasioned by students.
“Schools are dangerous and teachers are no longer safe. There have been similar cases at Moshupa, Madiba and Ledumang Senior Secondary Schools in the past in which teachers were assaulted by students. In some incidents, teachers escaped death after learners stabbed them with sharp objects,” he told The Monitor.
“Government should consider reintroducing corporal punishment in schools to curb the rising learners’ bad behaviour towards their teachers and other learners. I know the education Act says corporal punishment could only be instilled by school heads, but I think it is time these matters are taken to public courts so that people could discuss them.”
Rari stated that even though learners should be free and not be under any form of duress, there should be balanced with intellectual discipline. He said they feel that teachers should be empowered a little to instil corporal punishment, but that should not be mistaken to turn this into student abuse.
“There are incidents in which a teacher should just instil corporal punishment and avoid involving other people like taking such small matters to the school head. Learners continue to assault teachers and this is a symptom of a big problem yet to come if not addressed with immediate effect,” he added.
He stated that when following up the Lobsec incident, they established that the male student who started assaulting the teacher has a gang that has been terrorising the school for a while. He said they established that the said gang members abscond lessons and come to school only towards lunchtime to ‘eat and leave’.
Rari added that this kind of student behaviour calls for strong psychosocial support systems in schools and handled by several well-trained teachers, not one guidance and counselling teacher.
“A majority of senior secondary schools have a population of over 1,500 learners and you can imagine if there is only one guidance and counselling teacher. There should be a fully-fledged department with at least three to four trained officers. Government should urgently come up with strong measures that would ensure the safety of teachers in public schools because restricted corporal punishment has also heightened instances of ill-discipline in public schools,” he said.
Asked about the progress of the case, Woodhall Police Station Commander, superintendent Magosi Elias conceded to have received the report on February 9, 2021.
He revealed investigations were ongoing to establish what really transpired for events to end up leading to the fight.
Asked to respond to allegations that students kicked and assaulted the teacher with sticks and stones, Elias said he was yet to establish the facts as the teacher sustained bruises on his body.