Teachers need educational material, not guns in their hands - Sadtu

The Western Cape Education Department said it had reported at least 18 stabbings in the first term.

A teacher from Mabusabela Secondary School was monitoring grade 11 pupils writing the mid-year tourism paper while holding a rifle. Picture: Screengrab.

CAPE TOWN - Calls by the Educators' Union of South Africa (EUSA) to have teachers arm themselves in class have brought the deep disagreement about how to deal with violence in the country’s schools into sharp focus.

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) in the Western Cape said arming teachers would only lead to more violence.

The provincial education department said it had reported at least 18 stabbings in the first term.

Sadtu’s provincial branch responded to the EUSA, which stated government was forcing teachers to arm themselves as violence in schools reached worrying levels.

Sadtu’s Jonovan Rustin said schools in gang hotspots needed serious intervention, but he warned that arming teachers with firearms wouldn't make the situation any better.

“We are living in a very violent society and having access to weapons in schools may cause a bigger danger than we can ever imagine. In conflict [situations], you may find learners taking the guns from teachers [and] it can become a disaster at our institutions,” said Rustin.

Rustin said teachers needed educational material in their hands not guns.

He also said teachers would become targets for criminals who want guns.