GDE taking a stand against bullying

MEC Panyaza Lesufi has identified learner discipline as one of the priorities of the department.

“Plans are afoot to establish a permanent Learner Tribunal to assist the MEC in matters relating to school based violence, gangsterism, drug abuse, cyber bullying and other related serious misdemeanors,” says Phumla Sekhonyane, spokesperson for the GDE.

She adds that the MEC wants cases of this nature to be expedited as well as ensuring that the department is proactive in identifying preventative strategies to eliminate these social ills from the school environment.

“Cases of bullying are acted on immediately, parents are informed of an incident, perpetrators go through a disciplinary process and appropriate sanction is recommended.

“Psychosocial support is provided to both victims and perpetrators.”

Sekhonyane says that both the perpetrator and victim are afforded psychological and educational assessment, the results of which are confidential.

Support is always accorded to the learners by the department’s psychological services. An anti-bullying programme is always introduced at the affected school.

“Each school must have a code of conduct to deal with bullying and other discipline issues. Learners are taught about bullying in Life Orientation.”

Bullying is a social ill that needs to be addressed by all stakeholders in and out of the education system.

Last year the department conducted a Colloquium on Bullying to improve their interventions in this regard.

“At this colloquium experts agreed that it is important that learners are encouraged to report bullying and that parents and school authorities are encouraged to take complaints seriously.

“Recognising that the scope of the Code of Conduct is limited, the department has developed a Draft Exemplar Anti-Bullying Policy, which is in the consultation phase, to assist schools to develop their own policies and better manage bullying,” she adds.

According to Sekhonyane they have developed posters and pamphlets explaining bullying which are being distributed to schools and used in the parental training workshops across the province.

In addition to more effectively support the victims of bullying and other forms of school violence, the department  has the following interventions:

* The Gauteng Department of Social Development has allocated 25 social workers in to assist schools in dealing with behavioural challenges.

* The department has signed a memorandum of understanding with Child Line to provide guidance and counseling to learners in Gauteng on a 24 hour basis.

* They have partnered with Faith Based Organisations who have created a community-based network of pastoral care to learners in schools.

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