Tom Stokes, MPP
Democratic Alliance KZN Education Spokesperson
While the recent national agreement between the Department of Education and national police force as “part of a range of efforts aimed at eradicating school-based crime” is a welcome initiative, it should not send the signal that school governance can now abdicate its responsibility in creating an ordered campus and a disciplined learner body.
Too often the duty of maintaining order and discipline is “kicked upstairs” with the result that the abandonment of responsibility for creating an ordered society becomes endemic – not least in our school communities.
Part of the problem in schools with poor discipline records, where thugs roam the playgrounds, bullying or pushing drugs and where rude learners perpetually undermine teacher authority without correction, is the absence of an institutional discipline structure. A clear school discipline policy, with unmistakable lines of action, designated authority figures and consistent sanctions must be in existence. Coupled with this is the need for demonstrable determination to carry through with penalties.
Frequent re-emphasis of the discipline policy of the school should take place at assemblies, in staff rooms and at parent meetings so that no one is unsure of the determination of the school to carry through on its resolve to enforce a proper culture of responsibility and discipline.
Until discipline becomes engrained in the culture of a school, thugs will find easy prey in a chaotic learning environment.