Bullies have free rein at private schools

Learners at private schools are reportedly not protected against bullying under the Education Act.

28 August 2019 | Education

CATHERINE SASMAN

The ministry of education, arts and culture has been accused of having done nothing to make a statutory code of conduct applicable to private schools.

This accusation was made after an alleged assault at the Walvis Bay Private High School (WBPHS) in October 2017.

Lawyer Eben de Klerk of ISG Namibia, who investigated and compiled a report on the incident at the request of the alleged victim’s father, says he suspects the ministry’s failure in this incident extends to most – if not all – other private schools in Namibia.

“Learners at state schools enjoy clear and well-formulated rights when they fall prey to bullies, when they are victims of racism, or when they are assaulted. Together with these rights, state schools and their management and teachers have clear and well-formulated duties to protect children under these circumstances,” De Klerk says.

Not so for private schools, where learners do not seem to enjoy such protection.

De Klerk observes that private-school learners are at the mercy of school boards and teachers who employ “substandard” disciplinary codes.

“Should a school favour a bully, for whatever reason, above the victim of bullying, or refuse to act in cases of alleged racism, they are free to do so without having to fear ministerial oversight in terms of the Education Act. This should be a matter of grave concern for all parents who have children in private schools in Namibia,” the lawyer comments.

The WBPHS ‘incident’

According to De Klerk’s report on the incident at Walvis Bay Private High School, a learner of Portuguese extraction was assaulted by one learner while eight others – including four school prefects – hurled racist taunts at him.

The learner, then 14 and in Grade 7, suffered several injuries, including a bruised hip, facial and head bruises and cuts, and a bloody nose. A subsequent psychological report concluded that he suffered from acute stress disorder as a result of the attack.

De Klerk reports that the school management treated the matter as a mere “playground fight” and told the victim’s parents a day after the incident that “discipline was taken accordingly”. However, the parents dug in their heels and insisted on a full disciplinary process.

After much toing and froing, a disciplinary hearing was held on 1 December 2017.

The alleged victim and his alleged assailant were both charged with assault because, as school principal Estelle Eigelaar put it, “it was unclear who had thrown the first punch”.

Before the hearing, De Klerk notes in his report, the school had advised the alleged victim’s parents to remove him and his sibling from the school. The school’s legal practitioner also advised that it would be “far better” to remove the children.

Eigelaar insisted that the school had “attempted to make all proceedings as friendly and informal as possible”, and concluded that the school had gone “above and beyond what is expected of it (or all other schools for that matter) in terms of the Education Act and its own disciplinary code”.

De Klerk disagrees.

“[It] is difficult to imagine a more draconian and hostile environment in which this matter could have been handled,” he comments, adding that the school provided “no protection” to the victim who had to “endure such trampling on his rights while he was the one being bullied”.

Similar News

 

Book fair grows reading culture

3 days ago - 12 September 2019 | Education

The fourth Namibia Book Fair, hosted at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) last Friday, saw exhibitors from across the country showcase their...

Hoërskole vra mekaar vas

5 days ago - 10 September 2019 | Education

Evany Van WykMeer as 716 leerling van 179 skole het vanjaar aan die Bank of Namibia (BoN) se vasvrakompetisie deelgeneem.Die doelwit van die tweejaarlikse kompetisie...

Ooskola naavali taya tamanana omolwa oompango dhoskola

1 week ago - 06 September 2019 | Education

Omuvali gwomOvenduka okwa pula uuministeli welongo opo wu tale moompango dhooskola ndhoka tadhi indile aanona ya ye kooskola nomafufu gwoAfro. Okwa popi kutya...

Schools, parents clash over hairstyles

1 week ago - 05 September 2019 | Education

JEMIMA BEUKES A Windhoek school parent has called on the education ministry to look into school rules which prohibit children to...

Encouraging young readers

1 week ago - 03 September 2019 | Education

Ester Kamati The One Child, One Book nationwide reading campaign aims to engage the country in hope of developing a reading culture for individual betterment...

A woman of vision

2 weeks ago - 30 August 2019 | Education

Evany van Wyk Namutenya Hamwaalwa believes in always putting your home and family first, and your country second. This simply means that in everything...

Devoted to animals

2 weeks ago - 30 August 2019 | Education

Mariselle StofbergAnatole France once said that until one has truly loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. Hanna Rhodin has unequivocally unlocked...

Bullies have free rein at private schools

2 weeks ago - 28 August 2019 | Education

CATHERINE SASMANThe ministry of education, arts and culture has been accused of having done nothing to make a statutory code of conduct applicable to private...

Disability and possibility

2 weeks ago - 27 August 2019 | Education

Justicia Shipena Diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at age two and given only five years to live, Edward Ndopu has become a bonfire of...

Buzzing with language

2 weeks ago - 27 August 2019 | Education

Mariselle StofbergLanguage is a central part of communicating and helps one to express your opinions, hopes, dreams and aspirations. Sanlam, in collaboration with the University...

Latest News

Great risk, great reward

2 days ago - 13 September 2019 | Business

Evany van Wyk In only three years, Braam Vermeulen and his two other founding partners...

Once bitten, twice shy

2 days ago - 13 September 2019 | Economics

The Government Institutions Pension Fund says it cannot guarantee the success of its unlisted investment scheme but has taken precautions to ensure that it does...

Rape: No means no

2 days ago - 13 September 2019 | Crime

Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga yesterday underlined a woman's right to say no and urged Namibians to band together to end the epidemic of violence by...

Perseverance and a good attitude...

2 days ago - 13 September 2019 | Business

Evany van Wyk Growing up in the small town of Rehoboth, Chantell Engelbrecht longs for the times she used to play street soccer with her...

Fear is not a factor

2 days ago - 13 September 2019 | Business

Michelline Nawatises Primus Shaapopi was born at Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region. For 17 years, he was raised as a Catholic by his grandmother at...

Self-motivation and teamwork

2 days ago - 13 September 2019 | Business

Mariselle StofbergEvery new challenge can translate into a learning experience, which helps Natalia Simon gain deeper knowledge of my profession.Simon has never allowed the challenges...

Adding value to the equation

2 days ago - 13 September 2019 | Business

Evany van Wyk Born and raised in Oranjemund in the //Karas Region, Marisol Basson attended high school in South Africa. She decided to study marketing...

SOEs a burden - Jooste

2 days ago - 13 September 2019 | Government

Public enterprises minister Leon Jooste says state-owned enterprises in Namibia, with the exception of a few, have failed to optimally deliver on their mandates.“In some...

Let's talk about sex

2 days ago - 13 September 2019 | Opinion

Teen pregnancy in Namibia remains a rising concern. The high teen pregnancy rate has also resulted in many girls dropping out of school to stay...

Load More