The Gauteng Department of Education has strongly condemned personal relations between educators and learners, as it goes against the principle of the profession.
“The department has a zero-tolerance stance on allegations of sexual assault and strongly condemns any acts of sexual misconduct in schools. It is inappropriate for educators to partake in sexual relations with learners,” Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said.
The MEC made the remarks following sexual misconduct involving the school principal, educators and learners at Reiger Park High School, Johannesburg.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, MEC Lesufi said that the department became aware of the shocking videos and pictures after they were sent to them anonymously on 25 January 2018.
“An urgent meeting with the said principal was conducted on 26 January 2018 by the HOD, Edward Mosuwe, and it was subsequently discovered that he [principal] resigned in October 2017,” MEC Lesufi explained.
Despite the submission of a resignation letter, the MEC noted that the principal was still serving notice and would be deemed to have either nullified his resignation.
“If he however persists with the resignation would be deemed to have been dismissed, since he was served with a notice of suspension prior to the effective date of resignation,” he said.
In addition, the following developments have taken place:
- The educator has been reported to the South African Council of Educators (SACE) for his name to be struck off the educator’s roll;
- The psycho-social unit debriefed learners and educators and offered necessary support accordingly;
- No sexual abuse case was opened with the police because, No learners or parents disclosed any incidents to the officials, sadly, learners depicted in the videos/pictures are no longer at the school, and they actually matriculated in 2015/16;
- Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit has opened an enquiry and we can confirm that, implicated teachers confirmed that, they consented to engage in sexual activities with the said principal.
- SACE addressed teachers on how to conduct themselves professionally, and during this difficult situation;
- An investigation against officials appearing in the pictures/videos has been launched by our labour officials; and
- Three educators implicated were removed from the school.
A team from department’s Psycho-Social Unit visited the school on Monday.
The department encourages learners to report any form of abuse to a trusted authority or law enforcement agencies, and never listen to anybody who tells them not to tell, for fear of victimization.
Unplaced online applicants reduced
Meanwhile, MEC Lesufi reported that the number of unplaced online applicants for Grade 1 and 8 has drastically been reduced to 3 366.
This brings the number of all placed learners to 318 544 learners, including 176 702 in Grade 1 and 141 842 in Grade 8.
The admission process started on 2 May and closed on 12 June 2017.
By the end of June, 285 834 applications were received by the department, of which 285 455 or 99.8 percent were placed. The system was opened for late applications in November 2017.
“During this period, we received a further 22 921 application, of these 22 309 have been placed. Since 13 January 2017, an additional 13 155 new applications were received, and 10 780 have been placed. The department received 395 relocations from other province and countries,” MEC Lesufi reported.
He said that the admission centres at districts helped reduce the backlog, and will cease operating from 31 January 2018.
Lesufi also thanked all the parents for their cooperation, patience and understanding, ensuring that the department will do everything necessary to place all unplaced learners by the end of February.
He further appealed for patience during this time, and advised parents to accept offers of placements that may not be their first choice, as many schools have reached full capacity.
Hoërskool Overvaal case
Turning to the Hoërskool Overvaal case, the MEC said the department’s legal team met with the National Department of Basic Education on Monday to look at the Overvaal case, and they have taken a decision to approach the Constitutional Court directly.
“We are also filing our appeal this Friday. We believe we have good grounds to appeal this matter,” the MEC said.
In addition, the MEC has been meeting with several stakeholders in an attempt to restore calm at the school and rebuild relationships.
The South African Council of Churches and the Social Cohesion Champions has kick-started a process of mediation.
Hoernle Primary School
Following consultation with the community and all relevant stakeholders, the department will close Hoernle Primary School, and reopen it as an Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre.
MEC Lesufi said the school was closed initially but some officials continued to operate it.
“The closure of the school has been a subject of court challenges. An amicable settlement has been reached with the officials that have been running the school.”
The MEC said the school will not accept any new learners for primary school education, and the centre will be used as a pilot for public ECD centre catering for grade R and pre-Grade R.
Noordgesig Primary School
The department met with stakeholders regarding concerns raised by parents on the appointment of the principal in Noordgesig Primary School.
The MEC has requested the Head of Department to investigate and attend to the issues raised. He is expected to go back to the community to provide further feedback.
The department appeals to the community not to disrupt the education of learners. – SAnews.gov.za