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THE INVOLVEMENT OF PARENTS IN LEARNER DISCIPLINE

M. Motseke

University of South Africa (SOUTH AFRICA)
The introduction of democracy and the constitution in South Africa made people more aware of human rights abuses, discrimination and racism. In schools corporal punishment and other harsh measures of disciplining learners were banned. Corporal punishment was the main disciplinary tool adopted by both parents and teachers, especially in the historically disadvantaged residential areas (commonly known as townships). Consequently, the banning of corporal punishment led to an increase in ill-discipline among learners in the township schools. The purpose of this study was to determine if teachers believed that parents had a role to play in improving learner discipline in the township schools. Fifteen teachers and seven parents from the townships participated in the study. A questionnaire and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from teachers, while only semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from parents. The majority of teachers reported that parents were not supporting them in their efforts to improve learner discipline. The parents reported that due to their illiteracy or low level of education, they were not in a position to adequately handle some behavioural tendencies of their children as they were uncertain if such behaviour was allowed by the school or the constitution. Hence parents felt that the teachers, due to their superior level of education and position of authority, were better-placed to deal with disciplinary problems of children. The conclusion was that the role of parents in learner discipline in the township primary schools ranged from too little to non-existent. It is recommended that parents should be provided with some training in dealing with the changed behaviours of their children ā€“ so as to enable them to play a role in learner discipline. Teachers may organise workshops or parents evenings for purposes of such training.