Squabbling teachers turn schools into battlegrounds

Teachers are increasingly turning schools into battle grounds, attacking and hurling insults at each other in full view of stunned pupils, some as young as eight.

The South African Council of Educators has noted that since April it has recorded at least 10 such incidents, from one or two previously.

The council’s chief operating officer, Tshedi Dipholo, said the majority of cases were in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, which had recorded cases of teachers hurling chairs at each other and trading insults in class.

“The disturbing part is these squabbles are not even education-related. It is simply a case of bar brawls brought into the school environment,” she said.

Dipholo described an incident in the Free State where a teacher stormed into class and confronted another teacher about what was said about him in a shebeen.

She said in another case in the Eastern Cape, teachers who were fighting over the school feeding scheme’s powdered milk hurled chairs at each other.

Dipholo said such squabbles spiralled out of control to the extent that friends who were also teachers ended up getting involved, creating conflicting groups affecting learning and teaching.

“Professionals are unable to deal with petty squabbles like professionals,” she said.

Basic Education Department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said they were worried schools had become battlegrounds.

But teachers were not only turning on each other. According to the council,50 cases of sexual misconduct and 40 of corporal punishment had been reported to the council since April.

Council chief executive Rej Brijraj said in the past financial year, 25 registrations were struck off the roll indefinitely, while five were struck off for definite periods.

Brijraj said they had also found 20 teachers with fraudulent qualifications.

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