Ramaphosa warns teachers against having sexual relations with pupils

The South African schooling system is facing a massive challenge of teenage pregnancy, with experts saying adults including teachers are to blame for the problem.

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JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged teachers to stop initiating romantic and sexual relationships with pupils.

The president was addressing the national congress of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in Johannesburg in Nasrec on Wednesday.

The South African schooling system is facing a massive challenge of teenage pregnancy, with experts saying adults including teachers are to blame for the problem.

Ramaphosa said Sadtu, which is the majority union in the education sector, should work with other stakeholders to put a stop to this.

“This abhorrent behaviour must be decisively addressed, and it must be stopped. As educators, your job is that of a parent to the children who come to the school, you’re not supposed to be lovers of those children.”

According to the country's laws, the age of sexual consent is 16 years and sexual activity below that is considered as statutory rape.

TIGHT SECURITY AT SCHOOLS

The president promised tighter security measures at schools to improve the working conditions of teachers.

Educators have come under violent attacks from pupils across the country in recent months.

In its secretariat report, Sadtu endorses education international’s declaration that schools shall be safe sanctuaries.

However, this is not always the case, with incidents of teachers being verbally and physically abused by pupils becoming a common occurrence.

Ramaphosa said several measures would be employed to improve teaching conditions and school safety.

“We’re going to do everything we can to improve teaching conditions and school safety through increasing school infrastructure, ensuring that schools have proper fencing, burglar alarms, functioning relationships with the local police and other services. This is what we’d like to make available to you to improve your conditions of employment.”

Ramaphosa also implored educators to empower young people with vital skills to deal with harmful social ills such as gender-based violence, albeit that he admitted they are already overburdened and under-resourced.