Amid rising incidents of school violence, the Northern Cape education department is closely monitoring self-defence classes at a Kimberley school which could be considered for other institutions.
The classes at Roodepan Primary School, conducted by the SA Taekwondo Foundation, are also aimed at addressing bullying and instilling discipline among pupils.
If the programme is a success, the province’s education department will consider rolling it out widely.
Department spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane said the initiative was between the school, the foundation and the Love Life Trust.
He said although the department was not directly involved, it welcomed “any initiative that seeks to improve the manner of engagement, respect and confidence among pupils”.
He described the initiative as a “social intervention” programme which “we will look closer at and if it produces positive results we might consider piloting it” and later rolling it out to other schools.
Ntuane said his department had “not disputed the high level of physical clashes” between pupils in the province.
He cited several cases which had hit the local headlines, including the case in which, just more than a week ago, a 17-year-old was sentenced to 12 years in prison for stabbing his English teacher to death. The teenager reportedly accused the teacher of failing him last year.
Last September a Grade 8 child was stabbed to deathby a fellow pupil at Richmond High School and in June last year a 38-year-old man was arrested for the murder of a Grade 10 pupil at Makgolokwe T Secondary Schoolin Kuruman.
Ntuane said the department was worried about the escalating violence in schools, adding that most cases involved “intimidation and bullying”, but there had been cases in which pupils had lost their lives “outside school premises and after school hours”.
“We have programmes that we’re running in partnership with other departments, such as the police, but we really need all hands on the deck. Parents also have a roleto play as we seek a solution to this growing problem,” Ntuane said.
David Kof, the foundation deputy president, reportedly said they had “incorporated Taekwondo with life orientation to assist the kids with understanding what self-defence is and what the martial arts is and how to use it to curb their bullying”.
“We speak to them and give them informative sessions in which they learn how to work and play together,” he said.
Roodepan school principal Steve Drude said in an interview with the SABC: “We do experience a lot of bullying in our school; it’s a huge challenge. The children come from different backgrounds and different households, they find it difficult to respect one another’s rights.”