No teaching allowed
  • Teachers guilty of sexual misconduct – including sexual harassment of pupils – can never work at a public school again, under new department of education rules.
  • Possession of illegal drugs also comes with a lifetime ban, under the rules for re-employment.
  • Bribery, on the other hand, will see a five year exclusion, and in some cases those who misappropriate school property may be back in the job after a year.
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A teacher found guilty of sexual misconduct relating to the job will never be able to work in a public school in South Africa again, under new employment rules from the department of basic education.

Those involved in bribery, though, will be able to return to state employment after five years, and some type of property crimes will see significantly shorter bans.

The department on Friday gazetted a new batch of terms and conditions of employment of educators, using powers it has under the Employment of Educators Act. That activates a set of "mandatory period of prevention from re-employment" approved by basic education minister Angie Motshekga, which will keep educators out of public schools for a length of time, depending on what they did.

State schools and provincial departments have no leeway under the rules, and the severity of misconduct makes no difference. The effect is that an educator dismissed after threatening to assault a colleague will be banned for five years, even if the criminal justice system does not find the threat to be worthy of jail time.

The new bans range in duration from one year to indefinite.

Here is some of the conduct that will qualify teachers for state-school employment bans.

Indefinite bans for:

  • A sexual relationship with a pupil
  • Sexual harassment "involving learners"
  • Serious or sexual assault of a student or other educator
  • Illegally possessing an "intoxicating, illegal or stupefying substance"
  • A finding in court of murder or attempted murder, rape, indecent assault, or assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm

Five year bans for:

  • Bribery, including in relation to examinations
  • Receiving outside money "for performing his or her duties", or having a paying side gig, without authorisation
  • Keeping a firearm at the school without permission
  • Acts of dishonesty, including faking up documents

Four year bans for:

  • Sexual harassment of another employee
  • Unfair discrimination of a kind banned by the Constitution

Three year bans for:

  • Mismanaging school finances, or damaging school property, including by negligence
  • Being drunk on duty
  • Running a money-lending scheme for other teachers, or from school premises

One year bans for:

  • Wrongful use or possession of school property
  • Sleeping on duty
  • Being absent without leave
  • Poor performance not linked to incapacity

Under the Employment of Educators Act, a piece of legislation dating from 1998, there are six types of serious misconduct specific to teachers. Five of those (sexual assault, sex with a learner, serious assault, drug possession, and getting a pupil involved in any of those) now carry lifetime bans from re-employment.

The exception is "theft, bribery, fraud or an act of corruption in regard to examinations or promotional reports", which comes with a five year ban under the re-employment rules.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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