Debate on Violence in Schools

Jul 27, 2023 | Press Releases, Speeches

Hon. Mntomuhle B Khawula – IFP

KwaZulu-Natal Legislature – Pietermaritzburg
Thursday 27 July 2023

Hon. Speaker,
Hon. Members,

Education is a complex and critical phenomenon. Scholars of the subject define education as the process and activity of acquisition of knowledge, beliefs and habits of a group of people, who transfer them to other people.

One education writer, Dorothy Law Nolte, writes that, “Children learn what they live”. One line I would like to quote from this writing is the one that says, “If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.”

Education is also defined as a social process, and is termed socialisation. In academic circles, education is an activity that takes place both formally and informally. Schools were created by societies in order to impart knowledge and skills in formal institutions called schools. However, this did not take away the role of communities and society to impart skills and knowledge in society through informal means.

Therefore, educating children in schools is impacted upon by both internal and external factors. The external factors are economic, social, cultural, political, environmental and so on.  Society today is battling with conflicts between internal and external factors of the school environment. These include a conflict of official and non-official values, conflicting value systems of adults and children, different backgrounds of learners, conflict around race, class, gender, and other kinds of diversity.

The subject at hand, violence in schools, has both the internal and external factors. Some children in schools attack either other learners or educators. Some educators abuse learners or other educators. However, the biggest challenge that schools are faced with is people from outside who attack learners and educators for various reasons. Most of these are criminal elements that view schools as easy targets.

These days, our children are growing up in an environment that is infested with skewed values. Crime levels are very high in South Africa and criminals somehow become heroes and role models. Corruption levels are very high in government circles and wrongdoers live a life that is the envy of many children. Government office bearers are in and out of court for participating in criminal activities but get supported by the masses who claim their innocence at all costs. Judges and courts get ridiculed publicly by politicians when executing their duties towards public figures who have wronged the state. Towns, cities and shops get looted on a massive scale in broad daylight by the masses who get away with such criminalities. Trucks get looted and burned on our roads and most culprits get away with it. Women and children get raped and abused on a massive scale. The Gini-coefficient for South Africa is the highest in the world. This inequality has produced a very angry society of unemployed millions. People have become too obsessed with illegal shortcuts to glorious living standards. The list of these skewed values is endless and impacts negatively upon education.

It is the role of the state in every country to ensure that education is provided under circumstances that are conducive for effective teaching and learning to take place. In the context of South Africa and KZN, government has failed dismally to level the playing field for effective provisioning of education.

The external factors that inhibit the smooth process of teaching and learning from happening are too many. Schools are struggling largely because of the failures of government to govern. South Africa is slowly transcending from being a failing state to being a failed state.

Within education circles, many wrongs need to be corrected. In KwaZulu-Natal, the Education Department is underfunded and thus fails to employ the required number of teachers. The Department is fraught with nepotism, favouritism and cadre deployment, which cripples the smooth running of the schools. Managers are failing to manage. Parental and community involvement in the affairs of schooling is weak. SGBs are overpowered by unions. Education’s supposed ‘three-legged pot’ is abstract.

We have become the community from “Cry the beloved country” that Alan Paton was talking about. The idea of an Education Indaba is misplaced. We would have expected this at the beginning of the government’s term of office. The current administration is less than twelve months away from completing its term. Leave the Indaba to a new administration in 2024, which will usher in new mandates.

Remember : “Children  learn what they live.”

I thank you. Ngiyathokoza. Rea lebuga.

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