When it comes to controlling the wrongdoing and shortcomings of some of our teachers in public schools across the country, education legislation is neither sufficient nor effective. This is according to research conducted by Dr Cecile de Villiers of Stellenbosch University.
The Employment of Educators Act is the piece of legislation that regulates the employment of educators working in public basic education, and the research focused on the legislative regulation of educator performance.
In its current form, it is viewed as that piece of legislation does not connect well with the South African Council for Educators Act and the South African Schools Act. As a result, there is weakness and vulnerability in the legislative control of educator performance and other components of educator performance because it is too broken apart.
Examples of misconduct perpetrated by educators include:
- Deliberate falsification of documentation.
- Criminal conduct.
- Breaches of the school's equal opportunities including racial and sexual discrimination/harassment.
- Failure to uphold public trust and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour within and outside school.
The most recent example of misconduct according to recent media reports is when a Durban teacher was dismissed after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a school pupil.
The 16-year-old schoolgirl was his fiancée's sister, and at the time of the incident, he was living in an outbuilding on her family's property in Chatsworth, south of Durban.
The teacher was found guilty of sexual assault, dismissed, and barred from working with children by the Education Labour Relations Council. The investigation began on January 17 and ended on February 15.
While discussing everything that needs to be done to ensure that children have a good basic education, de Villiers went on to say that there is a relatively low number of disciplinary enquiries despite the fact that there are approximately 400 000 educators in schools across the country.
Even in instances when there are disciplinary enquiries, there tends to be a low conversion rate of the outcomes of these enquiries into actual dismissals when a dismissal is warranted.
This is despite the analysis showing the serious nature of the misconduct that takes place in our schools. Another element is that there's a differentiation between the different provincial departments of education in dealing with misconduct.
de Villiers also points out that out of the four provincial education departments that were analysed, the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) is the most efficient. The other three provincial education departments that were analysed include Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.