SACE CASE BACK IN COURT

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT CASE BACK IN COURT: CENTRE FOR CHILD LAW AND SECTION27 TO CHALLENGE COUNCIL FOR EDUCATORS’ LENIENT SANCTIONS ON CORPORAL PUNISHMENT CASES

13 June 2022, Johannesburg – SECTION27 is representing the Centre for Child Law and the parents of two learners, in a case before the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division) which will be heard on 14 June 2022. The case was postponed earlier this year on procedural grounds.

In December 2020, SECTION27, on behalf of the Centre for Child Law and the parents of two young learners (ages 7 and 10), initiated a case against the South African Council for Educators (SACE) for imposing lenient sanctions on two educators who pleaded guilty for assaulting learners in their classroom.

We are taking SACE to court and requesting that it reconsiders the decisions it made in respect of the two educators, as well as revise its Mandatory Sanctions on Contraventions of the Code of Professional Ethics, a document used by SACE when sanctioning educators for misbehaviour, in an effort to protect learners from further harm and ensure that the ban on corporal punishment is taken seriously.

SACE is the professional body responsible for maintaining and protecting educators’ ethical and professional standards. Their code of professional ethics expressly states that educators must refrain from any form of abuse, physical or psychological, and they are mandated to investigate and sanction any educator found guilty of this behaviour. Therefore, the body is one of the important institutions that can help address and stop the use of corporal punishment in schools. Sadly, they are failing in this role by imposing very lenient sanctions on educators found guilty of corporal punishment, including suspended sentences or mere fines, without addressing teachers’ violent behaviour or equipping them with the tools to implement non-violent discipline strategies.

Although corporal punishment has been banned from South African schools since 1996, teachers are still tragically using corporal punishment to discipline learners, thereby perpetuating the culture of violence and abuse that already characterises many South African Communities. Countless reports of learners being hit, thrown with objects, or verbally abused in class indicate that the ban on corporal punishment is not being properly enforced in schools. In addition, teachers are not being held properly accountable when found guilty of corporal punishment.

SACE is opposing the case, which will be heard on 14 June in the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division). Children’s Institute, represented by Equal Education Law Centre, has been admitted to the case as amicus curiae (friend of the court), and will be making submissions to support our relief.

European Union funding supports SECTION27 and the Centre for Child Law’s work on education rights issues.

For media queries, contact Pearl Nicodemus: nicodemus@section27.org.za / 082 298 2636