NEWS & ANALYSIS

WCED extensively vets teachers against Sex Offenders Register – DA

Basil Kivedo says dept is using a private company as SACE has not had the capacity

WCED extensively vets teachers against Sex Offenders Register 

31 May 2018

The Western Cape Education Department is using a private company, Management Integrity Evaluation (MIE), to vet teachers, as the South African Council of Educators (SACE) has for some time, not had the capacity to perform this function.

I will inquire from SACE how many teachers in the Province have been taken off the council’s roll because of interventions from the WCED concerning any incidents of sexual offences at schools in the Western Cape?

It was pleasing to note that DA colleagues in Gauteng have already laid a criminal complaint against SACE for failing to vet teachers against the sex offenders register. This is deeply concerning, as SACE’s mandate includes vetting all teachers against the sex offenders register as required under the Employment of Educators’ Act.

Unlike any other Provincial Education Department in the country, the WCED applies three checks to vet new teaching appointments as SACE fails to do so:

·         Firstly, the Department of Education uses the external service provider (MIE) that specialises in background checks. The agency is well-established in the field and has comprehensive access to all court records, among others.

·         Secondly, the Department refers to the public service employee records system, known as Persal. It includes records of disciplinary action, including dismissal for serious misconduct, for example, sexual abuse.

·         Thirdly, teachers may only teach if they are registered with the South African Council of Educators, known as SACE. This applies to all teachers, whether employed by the state, SGBs or in private schools. SACE will remove any teachers dismissed for sexual abuse from the register, which means they cannot teach again. Furthermore, Provinces have to report all disciplinary findings to SACE.

Currently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for maintaining the Sexual Offenders Register of convicted sex offenders. According to National Department of Social Development, the DOJ does not have the capacity to keep the sex offenders register up to date.

This is a serious indictment, as neither the WCED nor any other Department of Education would be able to effectively vet teachers, and this is why the WCED uses a specialist agency that checks all court records directly.

It is crucial that our schools set high standards with regard to creating an emotionally and physically safe environment for the young people in their care. We therefore remain committed to ensuring that young learners remain in school and are in fact safe whilst ensuring that learners are granted an equal opportunity to excel at school.

Issued by Basil Kivedo, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Education, 31 May 2018