The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has accused the Department of Basic Education of failing to address the problem of bullying at schools in Limpopo.
The commission recently held hearings in the province to investigate problems of bullying, corporal punishment, and sexual relationships between educators and pupils.
SAHRC regional spokesperson, Victor Mavhidula, accused the DBE of failing to implement policies to address bullying, instead shifting the blame.
“The problem is bigger than what we thought and there is a need for immediate intervention.
“Those in the know sometimes charmingly blame societal-ills and parents. There is no such. There is no single parent who is not doing enough to guard their child. Learners are frustrated. They report cases of bullying at schools and no one does anything about it, they are ignored,” said Mavhidula.
He said that Mbilwi Secondary School which made headlines over extreme bullying incidents, solely focussed on the pupils’ academic performance ignoring the holistic wellbeing of pupils.
Mbilwi Secondary is the school where grade 10 pupil, Lufuno Mavhungo, was violently bullied, leading to her committing suicide.
A criminal case is ongoing against the alleged perpetrator. However, the department of education is yet to receive a report from the school about the incident.
Mavhidula previously told IOL that Lufuno and a school security guard had reported the bullying, but her complaint was ignored by the school principal.
“After Lufuno everyone was shocked. This was an unprecedented case. The SAHRC was concerned about the issue of bullying being overlooked at the school and in the province.
“We have departmental guidelines on what officials should do to guard learners, but they are not being implemented. Also we heard that the education department was not receiving any reported cases of bullying.
“ Principals are not reporting the cases. So therefore, there is no true reflection of what is happening, so how do they plan? You can't be surprised at the increase of violence at schools.There is no plan to fight bullying nor is there a contingency plan,” Mavhidula said.
The commission has since given the education department three weeks to come up with a policy or directive to address the issue of bullying at schools.