Education International
Education International

Report on school violence unjustly targets teachers

published 16 October 2008 updated 16 October 2008

A report on violence in schools published last week by Plan International is sensationalist and unjustly targets teachers, said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen in an address to the first congress of the South African teachers union NAPTOSA on 15 October.

The report, entitled “Learn without fear,” is the basis for a worldwide campaign launched by Plan International to end violence in schools.

”While we support the goal of stopping violence against children, we cannot accept organizations like Plan International undermining confidence in our profession,” said van Leeuwen.

“Every day hundreds of millions of children are being taught by some sixty million teachers worldwide. We do not deny that there are incidents and that every single incident of child abuse is one too many. Any teacher who abuses children should be expelled from the profession. But targeting the entire teaching profession in the way this report does is not only unjust to many millions of dedicated and caring teachers, but also very irresponsible,” van Leeuwen said.

“Teachers are themselves at risk. Violence against teachers is on the rise in many countries. Most of this violence takes place in schools and other educational institutions. The accusations contained in this report may even encourage further violence against educators.”

Plan International should have consulted EI and its member organizations when it began its research, according to van Leeuwen. He said that there would be no support for the campaign.

The NAPTOSA Congress, held on 15 and 16 October in Benoni, Gauteng, discussed promoting “teaching as a principled practice.” The delegates, who represent the provincial branches of the organization, addressed teachers’ terms and conditions of employment as well as a range of professional issues.

They also elected a new leadership. Departing President David Balt was highly praised for his leadership in helping to bring together the provincial organizations into a national union. With 49,000 members NAPTOSA is the second largest teachers’ union in South Africa.