Provincial Education Departments are not vetting teachers against Sex Offenders Register
22 April 2018
Replies to DA Parliamentary questions, one from Justice on the National Register for Sex Offenders and one from Social Development on the Child Protection Register, revealed that none of the nine provincial departments of education has accessed the Sexual Offenders Register or the Child Protection Register in the last two years to vet prospective teachers before employing them.
The Western Cape Education Department is, however, using a private organisation to do the vetting as the South African Council of Educators (SACE) clearly does not have the capacity to perform this function.
The DA will, therefore, submit questions to the other provincial education departments to find out if all the teachers on their payroll have been properly vetted.
Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, who bears ultimate responsibility for the bodies that report to her must account for this dismal failure which puts the lives and well-being of our children at risk.
SACE must also account for why they have failed in their duty to perform this function, despite the DA raising this issue with them at a meeting organized by the DA several weeks ago.
Ensuring that the teachers entrusted with our children are vetted properly must be a top priority for each provincial department of education. It is therefore shocking to learn that these departments may not be vetting teachers at all.
It is high time that we put the safety of our learners first. Children should not have to choose between getting an education and their safety.
South Africans can still co-sign our letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, calling for an urgent interdepartmental response to school violence and unsafe schools at https://protectourchildren.co.za/
The recent announcement by SACE that prospective teachers must provide a police clearance certificate before they can be registered is welcomed but it is not enough as it, unfortunately, leaves massive gaps in the vetting system.
Existing teachers will not have to provide the certificate, which means that all current teachers will not be properly vetted and cases of abuse that may have resulted in disciplinary hearings but not criminal cases will not be captured by a police certificate on a criminal history.
Without knowing the criminal or disciplinary history of current and incoming teachers, children could potentially be exposed to abuse. This is unacceptable and SACE must account for the poor standards in teacher vetting.
Issued by Ian Ollis MP , DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, 22 April 2018