ActionSA Notes with Great Concern, Reports That 3.6% of School Staff Members Screened in 2023, Had Criminal Records including Rape and Murder

ActionSA notes with great concern reports that as of 2023, amongst screened staff members at schools from across the country, some were found to have criminal records such as assault, murder, rape and theft.

Meanwhile schools are supposed to be safe spaces where learners are protected and nurtured, with teachers and administrative staff members assuming the role of parents (in loco parentis) as soon as the learners enter the school premises, one would not expect that some could not possibly be trusted with such responsibility.

In 2023, TPN Credit Bureau data indicated that 3.6% of the 447 123 plus teachers in South Africa, had previously been arrested and charged with a crime.

It is therefore worrisome that there is gross negligence by officials entrusted with the enforcement of policy meant to protect leaners from potential exposure to harm, by staff members who have been found guilty of these crimes.

It also cannot be acceptable that those responsible for ensuring adherence to the stringent measures of the code of conduct for educators, which also requires that they submit a police clearance certificate amongst other documents, only enforce application of these measures to new teachers registering with the South African Council of Educators (SACE). This practice has allowed for perpetrators disguised as teachers to remain within our Basic Education System, and continue to pose danger to the learners.

Section 120 of Children’s Act is clear that a person convicted of murder, attempted murder, rape and assault amongst other crimes, must be declared unfit to work with children. The negligence by principals and the department of basic education to conducting oversight on staff members in our schools, is an indication of the serious interventions needed to address some of the department’s inefficiencies.

As ActionSA we believe that there is a need to amend the legislation and ensure that those responsible for the protection of learners as prescribed by the SACE (South African Code of Conduct for Educators) and Children’s Act, are taken to task when failing in their duty to offer protection for our learners, by getting perpetrators removed from our education system.

Furthermore, ActionSA’s Education Policy seeks to correct these inefficiencies by depoliticising the education system to allow the department of basic education more control on the running of our schools, and by introducing measures such as the completion of school management training programmes, which will ensure that principals have the necessary skills to adequately manage schools and teachers for which they are directly responsible.