Education department to run campaign against bullying

The department of basic education will, from this month until next year, embark on roadshows as part of an awareness campaign to address violence and bullying in schools

On Wednesday, the department presented its anti-bullying and violence prevention plan to the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education. According to the presentation, the roadshows, which will cover all provinces, will start later this month and will run until March 2022. 

The spokesperson for the department, Elijah Mhlanga, said that the first roadshow would be held in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg. 

The roadshows will be held in conjunction with other departments such as social development and the police. 

Last week, the Mail & Guardian reported that teachers said they did not feel they had the ability to deal with bullying in schools. They also bemoaned the lack of awareness campaigns in schools regarding bullying. The only time psychologists were sent to the schools was in response to incidents, according to the teachers. 

According to the department’s presentation, part of the initiative is to meet and train members of newly-elected school governing bodies on school safety, and equip them to immediately and fairly deal with incidences of violence and bullying in their schools. 

Learner representative councils will also get training on school codes of conduct so that they can promote positive behaviour. 

Through the campaigns and other initiatives, learners will be made aware of the effect of acts of criminality and bullying on themselves and the effect they have on the lives and future of their victims.

The department also plans to involve parents in the campaigns by assisting them to understand the role and responsibility they have for their children’s behaviour.

The department’s presentation follows a bullying incident at Mbilwi Secondary School in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, last month. A video of teenager Lufuno Mavhunga being attacked by a fellow learner went viral on social media. 

The 14-year-old perpetrator was arrested and was last week released on R1 500 bail after spending two weeks in a children’s centre. 

The presentation also made known that the day after the bullying incident learners protested and those who had watched when Lufuno was being attacked had to be escorted home by police officers. 

Lufuno died of suicide after she was attacked.

This case is one in a string of bullying incidents brought to the attention of the department through viral video clips. 

The Mahlabathini magistrate’s court in KwaZulu-Natal recently handed down a year-long community service sentence to a 16-year-old after she was convicted in March of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. She had also been filmed in September hitting, kicking and dragging another learner. Both the learners attended Mathole High School in Mahlabathini. 

The chairperson of the portfolio committee, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, told the M&G that the committee was satisfied with the department’s presentation, and agreed that the planned interventions would be effective if they were implemented. 

She said the roadshows and campaigns would create awareness, but it was clear and agreed upon that addressing bullying and school violence was not only a matter for the department, schools and teachers. Parents and families also had to play their part. 

Mbingo-Gigaba said: “There are perpetrators of bullying, but instead of judging the perpetrator we think also we need to dig deeper in finding out what is this anger that causes children to beat each other non-stop and you see they do that out of anger. 

“We are living in anger. Our children somehow are frustrated and we need to look into that as well.” 

 Mhlanga said there would be an inter-governmental meeting this week to discuss a joint effort by the government to address the problem of bullying in schools. 

“All of us are implicated,” he said.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Tunisia struggles to grow more wheat as Ukraine war bites

Since the Ukraine war sent global cereal prices soaring, import-dependent Tunisia has announced a push to grow all its own durum wheat, the basis for local staples like couscous and pasta.

Democracy under serious and sustained attack from within the US

Far-right Republicans and the conservative supreme court are working on a carefully laid plan to turn the US into a repressive regime

Grilling for UK leader Boris Johnson after top ministers quit

The prime minister has faced lawmakers' questions after two of the most senior figures in his government resigned. The finance and health ministers said they could no longer tolerate the culture of scandal

Declare an ‘energy emergency’, says National Planning Commission

The commission said the goals of the National Development Plan, which it is charged with advancing, ‘cannot be achieved without energy security’

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…