As of January 2019 all new teachers registering with the South African Council of Educators (SACE) will be required to obtain and submit police clearance certificates when they register with the professional council for educators. It’s a policy that not only faces opposition, but some uncertainty about its implementation.
As such, we’re stepping up to the plate.
About a year ago the Democratic Alliance laid a criminal complaint against SACE for failing to vet teachers against the sex offenders register. It’s a matter conceded by SACE, claiming difficulties accessing the system.
This week news broke of a widely praised policy which requires all new teachers to provide police clearance certificates upon registration with SACE. Those who are found to be in possession of a criminal record – even for something as minor as shoplifting – should be barred from registration.
It’s a policy which is long overdue, especially since an alarming 33% (one in three) children in South Africa will experience a form of abuse in their lifetime. It is estimated that only 12% of sexual offences are reported to SAPS in South Africa, which means that 8 in 9 cases go unreported. Of course, these statistics cover the entire spectrum of abuse, not only instances that occur in our school perpetrated by educators.
So far, so good. Implementation of this policy will be a good step forward to safeguard our children.
But, says spokesperson for the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa Thirona Moodley, intimate teacher-pupil relationships are a big concern.
“The problem of teachers having relationships with pupils is the biggest problem we have at our schools. Some never get arrested or convicted for sexual offences, although they are sex predators. We welcome the idea behind this policy, but more needs to be done to protect our children. We need to find processes that work,” said Moodley.
Various other concerns have been raised regarding the policy. While the National Association of School Governing Bodies (NSGB) wishes that individuals with a criminal record be barred from registration without exemption, SACE maintains that it will consider such instances on a case-by-case basis.
The National Teachers’ Union, although not opposed to the idea, said that it should not be a teacher’s responsibility to obtain and provide police clearance. Instead, they propose that the responsibility should rest with SACE.
Then there’s the Educators’ Union of South Africa that also raised some objections, accusing SACE of acting as judge, jury, and executioner instead of focusing on improving the quality of education.
Ultimately, however, it has to be kept in mind that a policy is only as effective as its implementation – a fate which may or may not rest on protracted disputes and court cases, or lack of political motivation and / or enforcement.
CarerCheck: Comprehensive teacher vetting
Until recently CarerCheck was a solution aimed at the carers of young children, and included SAPS clearance, identity verification, credential (e.g. qualifications, memberships) verification, and a criminal record check. These services promote compliance with the Children’s Act of 2005.
But, in our opinion it’s time that the fight for the safety of our children is stepped up, regardless of official policy or procedure which may or may not happen. CSI Africa is extending CarerCheck to all educational institutions which cater to children – from pre-primary and day care centres through to high school and other educational institutions.
Newly included in the CarerCheck package is a check against the National Child Protection Register, and Sex Offenders’ Register to help weed out individuals who may pose a direct threat to children.
Here’s how it works
We use a digital, secure POPI-compliant vault to capture and upload an individual’s personal details. These details include IDs, driver’s licences, PDP’s (in case of persons transporting children), digital fingerprints, a photograph, and other relevant documents.
Information uploaded to the vault is submitted on behalf of the school or institution to:
- the South African Police Service (SAPS) for clearance, and
- checked against the National Child Protection Register
- and the National Register of Sex Offenders.
Once we receive the results of these background checks, they are uploaded to the vault under the profile of the individual being screened. Employers and other relevant parties can access the CarerCheck results directly in The Vault, or choose to receive a PDF report.
Institutions that sign up with CarerCheck will receive a certificate listing the employees who have been vetted. This certificate can be displayed in a public area to show compliance with relevant legislation and, more importantly, to provide parents with the peace of mind that their children are a little safer.
For more information call us on 0861 274 911.