Children’s Institute, represented by Equal Education Law Centre go back to Court to re-enforce the protection of children in schools

For immediate release


Corporal punishment has been banned for 26 years in South Africa. So why are teachers still using it, and why is the South African Council for Educators (SACE) not holding them appropriately accountable? The media is congested with articles about teachers who are abusive toward children. Last week, IOL news reported on the MEC of Education’s visit to a school in Tsakane, following an assault that led to the death of a learner. Times Live reported on a school teacher who wants corporal punishment returned. A few weeks ago, we read about a schoolteacher who used a gun to enforce discipline in her classroom. Where does it end and why do we not have proper training and rehabilitation to ensure that corporal punishment or “bringing back the cane” is not the go-to response to a difficult situation?

On 14 June 2022, the Children’s Institute, represented by the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), will be making submissions as a friend of the court (amicus curiae) in the matter between Centre for Child Law and Others, and South African Council of Educators and Others. The matter was first before the Court on 25 April 2022, where it was postponed, and a new date announced.

The Centre for Child Law matter concerns the lenient sanctions that the South African Council of Educators (“SACE”) applies to educators who are found guilty of assaulting learners. The two unrelated instances which are placed before the court in the Centre for Child Law matter concerns two educators who committed serious and grievous assaults against children aged 7 and 10 years old respectively. The 7-year-old child was hospitalized after being beaten with a PVC pipe that led to a serious head injury. The 10-year-old child was slapped and beaten to the extent that she bled from her ears and has long-term hearing concerns. Children are inherently vulnerable and have the right to be protected from harm and to learn in a safe environment. This makes the assaults even more egregious.

After finding the educators guilty, SACE imposed sentences in accordance with their Mandatory Sanctions document. The sanctions imposed included the educators’ removal from the roll of educators which was suspended for 10 years* and a fine. This is a lenient and inadequate sentence considering the extent of the children’s injuries. The sentences, being suspended, have allowed the educators to return to the classroom if they are not found guilty of another misconduct. They also return to the classroom without any rehabilitation to address their violent behavior, and without any further training on how to appropriately discipline children. They will be able to remain in contact with vulnerable young children.

The Children’s Institute will be presenting evidence to the court on why revising SACE’s Mandatory Sanctions document to rehabilitate teachers is so important. It also covers the methods that work and the places where educators can find training on the skills, they need to maintain discipline in the classroom, ultimately keeping themselves and children safe.  Corporal punishment is still widespread in South African schools, and children face it regularly in the classroom resulting in profoundly negative impacts on their lives. One of the major reasons that children continue to experience assault in the classroom is the fact that educators are not trained on the use of alternative strategies and alternative forms of discipline in the classroom.


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The Equal Education Law Centre EELC is a public interest litigation organisation which seeks to address systemic inequalities in the South African education system through coordinated strategies, advocacy and action to bring about sustained change. The EELC provides a daily walk-in clinic, which offers free legal support to individuals and communities. The lawyers employed by the EELC provide legal support, litigation where necessary, and on the ground interventions to assist marginalised learners and community members in realising their rights to equality, dignity and education