Impact of the Political, Social, and Economic Environment on Education
School Violence and Apartheid Era Education
Sexual Violence in South African Society
Sexual Violence Against Girls
Some research suggests that child rape is also committed as a preventive measure to avoid contracting the virus from older women. In part, because they are believed to be HIV-free, younger women and girls have become increasingly attractive to older men as sexual partners, willing or unwilling. Because they are commonly believed to be less likely to be infected, very young girls run an increased risk of sexual harassment on their way to and from school. Girls have been abducted and sexually assaulted in route to school. This has led to isolated cases of such girls being withdrawn from school and to pressure from parents for schools to be built closer to their homes.40
The director of Childline also believes her counselors are "certainly seeing young children who appear to have been the victims of [the myth]. They have been abused by adults and youths who are HIV-positive and ordinarily would not be sexually attracted to or active with children." The director reported: "We know of township youths who specifically target virgin girls and separate them physically from their peer groups-for instance, when walking home from school-and gang rape them."43
Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women
School Reform, Conditions, and Structure
HIV/AIDS and Education
Schools as Spaces for Violence
The insecurity of the school environment presents a situation in which children are routinely exposed to gang violence, rape, robbery, and assault. Gangs operate with impunity in some school environments,80 making "schools places where drugs, thugs and weapons can move as freely through the gates as pupils."81 Turf wars between gang members do not just spill onto school grounds; rather, schools become territorial prizes because gangs need a controlled area from which to sell drugs and recruit members. Some schools are so destabilized by gangs that courses are not conducted according to any regular schedule. Teachers report that they sometime fear their own gang-affiliated pupils who carry weapons and smoke dagga.82 Intimidation by gangs can undermine all attempts at creating a culture of learning and teaching.83 Lack of school security is a problem in high crime areas.84 In many schools, teachers and students alike are frightened for their safety.85
3 In this report the terms gender violence and sexual violence are used interchangeably and refer to any physical violence that is directed against women and girls because they are female or violence that affects females disproportionately such as rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and indecent assault.
4 In this report "student" is used interchangeably with "learners" and "pupils" to describe children under the age of eighteen years attending school.
5 There is a large literature on the political history of education in South Africa. See, generally, Jonathan Hyslop, Classroom Struggle: Policy and Resistance in South Africa 1940-1990 (Durban: University of Natal Press, 1999); Pam Christie, The Right to Learn: The Struggle for Education in South Africa (Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1985); Neville Alexander, Education and the Struggle for National Liberation in South Africa (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1992); Simphiwe Hlatshwayo, Education and Independence: Education in South Africa, 1658-1988 (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999); Peter Kallaway (ed.), Apartheid and Education: The Education of Black South Africans (Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1984); John Marcum (ed.), Education, Race and Social Change in South Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982).
6 Educational segregation based on race in South Africa originated before the advent of apartheid, when Dutch and British settlers founded separate schools for their slaves to teach rudimentary language skills in order to facilitate basic communication. The Cape School Board Act 35 of 1905 was the first official law mandating separate education according to race, paving the way for a long history of separate education for blacks and whites in South Africa. See Andrew van Zyl, "A Historical Overview of South African Education," in E.M. Lemmer and D.C. Badenhorst (eds.), Education for South African Teachers (Pretoria: Juta and Co., 1997), pp. 54-55.
7 "Bantu education" policies were designed to ensure that the vast majority of black children would receive a schooling that did not equip them for anything other than unskilled manual labor, while white children were prepared for an almost complete monopoly of the dominant positions in the society. African girls studied subjects designed to prepare them for jobs as domestic servants. The intention of securing white domination through education was apparent in the National Party's justification for the Bantu Education Act. National Party Minister of Native Affairs (and later Prime Minister) Dr. H.F. Verwoerd maintained:
There is no place for him [the black person] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour....Until now he has been subject to a school system which drew him away from his own community and misled him by showing him the green pastures of European society in which he will not be allowed to graze.
See F. Troup, Forbidden Pastures: Education Under Apartheid (London: International Defence and Aid Fund, 1976), p. 22.
8 Education for All: The South African Assessment Report 2000 (Pretoria: Department of Education, March 2000), p. 5.
9 Soweto is an acronym derived from South-Western Townships. Soweto is the largest black township in South Africa and is located just southwest of Johannesburg. For discussions on student movements in South Africa, see Jonathan Hyslop, "Schools, Unemployment, and Youth: Origins and Significance of Student and Youth Movements," in Bill Nasson and John Samuel (eds.), Education: From Poverty to Liberty (Johannesburg: David Philip Publishers, 1990).
10 Rueben Mogano, The Resurgence of Pupil Power: Explaining Violence in African Schools, Seminar Paper presented at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, March 24, 1993, Seminar No. 1 (Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, 1993), available at http://wits.ac.za/csvr/papmogan.htm (accessed December 10, 1999).
11 Ibid., pp. 1-2
12 Ibid., p. 7. For further discussions of the challenges confronting educational reform in South Africa, see, generally, Shireen Motala, Salim Vally and Maropen Modiba (eds.), "A Call to Action: A Review of Minister K. Asmal's Educational Priorities," Quarterly Review of Education and Training in South Africa, vol. 6, no. 3, 1999; Peter Kallaway, Education After Apartheid: South African Education in Transition (Cape Town: UCT Press, 1997); Zandile Nkabinde, An Analysis of Educational Challenges in the New South Africa (Lanham: University Press of America, 1997).
13 South African Police Service, "Semester Report 1/2000, Annexure A: National and Provincial Crime Statistics: January - December: 1994-1999," in The Incidence of Serious Crime in South Africa Between January and December 1999 (Pretoria: Crime Information Analyis Centre, Crime Intelligence, South African Police Service, 2000), available at http://www.saps.co.za (accessed November 28, 2000).
14 Internationally, all crimes including rape are reported as incidence statistics for a given year. Statistics on incidence of rape are reported in ratios per 100,000 of the population. South Africa's distinction as a world leader in rape is largely based on a comparison of selected crime ratios from South Africa for the year 1996 with the crime ratios from 113 other Interpol member countries, as reported in International Crime Statistics (Interpol, 1996).
15 South African Police Service, "Semester Report 1/1999, Annexure E: International Crime Ratios According to the 1996 Interpol Report," in The Incidence of Serious Crime in South Africa Between January and December 1998 (Pretoria: Crime Information Analysis Centre, Crime Intelligence, South African Police Service, 1999), available at http://www.saps.co.za (accessed November 28, 2000).
16 Alan Martin, "Horror that Stalks Women Everywhere," Sowetan, August 24, 1998.
17 Neil Andersson, Sharmila Mhatre, Nzwakie Mqotsi, and Marina Penderis, Prevention of Sexual Violence: A Social Audit of the Role of the Police in the Jurisdiction of Johannesburg's Southern Metropolitan Local Council (CIETafrica: Johannesburg 1998), p. 10.
18 Cornia Pretorius, "One in Four Men Say They are Rapists," Sunday Times, June 25, 2000.
19 South African Police Service, "Annexure A: National and Provincial Crime Statistics: January - December: 1994 - 1999," The Incidence of Serious Crime in South Africa Between January and December 1999 (Pretoria: Crime Information Analysis Centre, Crime intelligence, South African Police Service, 2000); Glenda Daniles, "Getting Women to Report Rape," Mail and Guardian, August 4, 2000.
20 See Human Rights Watch, Violence Against Women in South Africa: State Response to Domestic Violence and Rape (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1995), pp. 50-51.
21 Ros Hirschowitz, Seble Worku, and Mark Orkin, Quantitative Research Findings on Rape in South Africa (Pretoria: Statistics South Africa, 2000), pp. 21-24. Only one out of eleven (8.9 percent) of all reported rape cases end up in the conviction of the perpetrator whereas half (53.3 percent) of drunken-driving and drug related cases result in conviction. Ibid. See also Andersson, et al., Prevention of Sexual Violence, p. 14.
22 Hirschowitz, et al., Quantitative Research Findings on Rape in South Africa, p. 24.
24 Human Rights Watch interview with Thoko Majokweni, Special Director Sexual Offence and Community Affairs Unit, National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa, Pretoria, March 22, 2000.
25 Phindile Ngubane and Robert Brand, "Mbeki Slams `Speculative' Rape Stats," Star, October 28, 1999.
26 In a letter to President Mbeki endorsed by several women's rights groups, Rape Crisis Cape Town expressed concern over his rejection of frequently cited rape statistics. Available at http://www.rapecrisis.org.za/views/mbeki.html (accessed October 17, 2000).
27 Reportedly, National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi ordered a freeze on the release of all local crime statistics in what has been explained as an attempt to give the police time to reassess and restructure the way the department measures crime. See "Gag on Crime Stats `Till Further Notice,'" Mail and Guardian, July 14, 2000; Ted Leggett, "Crime Statistics Moratorium Is No Solution," Mail and Guardian, August 24, 2000.
28 Government of National Unity, Initial Country Report: South Africa: Convention on the Rights of the Child (South Africa: Government of National Unity, 1997), p. 60.
29 Hirschowitz, et al., Quantitative Research Findings on Rape in South Africa, pp. 21-24.
30 Neil Andersson, Sharmila Mhatre, Nzwakie Mqotsi, and Marina Penderis, Beyond Victims and Villains: The Culture of Sexual Violence in South Johannesburg (Johannesburg: CIETafrica, 2000), pp. 48-59.
31 Human Rights Watch interview with Rachel Jewkes, Acting Director Women's Health Research Unit, Medical Research Council, Pretoria, March 20, 2000; see also Hirshowitz et al., Quantitative Research Findings on Rape in South Africa.
32 See Kimberley Porteus, Tirisano: Towards an Intervention Strategy to Address Youth Violence in Schools Working Document (Pretoria: Secretariat for Safety and Security, the Department of Education and the National Youth Commission, 1999), p. 10, and sources cited therein.
33 South African Police Service, "Statistical Analysis of Reported Rape Cases," in The Incidence of Serious Crime in South Africa Between January and December 1999. For the twelve to seventeen-year-old age group, the Western Cape reflected the highest ratio of rapes at 889.3 per 100,000 of the female population, followed by Gauteng at 722.0.
34 Ibid. For the age category of zero to eleven years, Gauteng was identified as the province with the highest ratio of reported rape cases per 100,000 of the female population with 220.9 cases, followed by the Western Cape at 176.4, Free State at 149.4, and KwaZulu-Natal at 139.2.
35 Girls are the most frequent victims of sexual assault including rape, attempted rape, and other sexual offenses. Fear of sexual violence is very prevalent among girls. Even very young girls are aware of sexual violence and frightened of falling victim to it. One South African researcher told us of focus groups conducted among girls in Gauteng which revealed that
girls as young as eight to twelve knew what rape was; when asked what do you like about being a girl they came up with nothing; they wanted to be boys; they were afraid of rape and boys beating them up. Bullying in schools is a big problem, if not always gender related.
Human Rights Watch interview with Sue Goldstone, Soul City, Johannesburg, March 17, 2000. Soul City is a multi-media project initiated by the Institute for Urban Primary Healthcare. It uses popular entertainment to educate the South African public on various health topics. Soul City develops television and radio programming around particular themes or areas of concern often after conducting research among its potential target audience.
36 Janet Heard, "Young Life Shattered After Horror at School," Sunday Times, August 8, 1999.
37 Human Rights Watch interview with Val Melis, Senior Public Prosecutor, Family Matters, Durban, April 3, 2000.
38 Prega Govender, "Child Rape: A Taboo Within the AIDS Taboo," Sunday Times, April 4, 1999; Peter Dickson, "Myth of `Virgin Cure' May Be Linked to Rape," Sunday Times, September 27, 1998. According to Suzanne Leclerc Madlala, an anthropologist at University of Durban Westville, the "virgin cure" myth is based in the belief that a man will somehow get an infusion of "clean blood" through intercourse with a virgin. Virgins are also believed to have special immunity against sexually transmitted diseases due to a dry vaginal tract. Prepubescent girls are not seen as having the same vaginal secretions of adult women. Leclerc Madlala's research found that the virgin girls were perceived as physically clean, morally clean, uncontaminated, and able to transfer these properties to others. According to Leclerc Madlala,"[the myth] is a sensitive issue with potentially racist overtones, people don't want to confront the issue."
39 Human Rights Watch interview with Val Melis, Senior Public Prosecutor, Durban, April 3, 2000.
40 M.J. Kelly, The Encounter Between HIV/AIDS and Education (Harare: UNESCO, 2000), p.18.
41 Human Rights Watch interview with Joan van Niekerk, Director Childline, Durban, April 8, 2000.
42 Jean Redpath, "Children at Risk," Focus, June 2000, pp. 23-25.
44 Prega Govender, "Schoolkids in Virginity Test," Sunday Times, May 17, 1998. According to B. Mohlaka:
Virginity testing was conducted by older women who were often related to the child. Now teachers often conduct this kind of testing. Various other researchers also stated that schoolteachers conducted these examinations mainly on girls, who, should the test be passed, were awarded with virginity certificates.
B. Mohlaka, Member of Parliament, Address at the Commission on Gender Equality Consultative Conference on Virginity Testing (June 12, 2000).
45 Govender, "Schoolkids in Virginity Test," Sunday Times. According to Futhi Zikalala of the Commission for Gender Equality: "The way these [virginity] tests are done infringe on a girl's right to privacy. Girls have to lie on their backs with their panties off and legs up in the air, preferably on a sloped floor." Human Rights Watch interview with Futhi Zikalala, Provincial Manager, Commission for Gender Equality, Durban, March 30, 2000.
46 Ansuyah Maharaj, "Virginity Testing a Matter of Abuse or Prevention?," Agenda, no. 41, 1999; "South Africa: Virginity Testing," IRIN HIV/AIDS Weekly, Issue 8, January 5, 2001; Chris McGreal, "Virgin Tests Make a Comeback," Mail and Guardian, September 29, 1999; Zwelihle Memela, "Virginity Testers Fight for Their `Cultural Rights,'" Natal Witness, December 6, 2000.
47 For additional discussion of virginity testing and violations of women's physical integrity, see Human Rights Watch, A Matter of Power: State Control of Women's Virginity in Turkey (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994).
48 Lisa Vetten, "Roots of a Rape Crisis," Crime and Conflict, no. 8, Summer 1997; see also Lauren Segal, Joy Pelo, and Pule Rampa, "`Asicamtheni Magnets-Let's Talk, Magents:' Youth Attitudes Towards Crime," Crime and Conflict, no. 15, Autumn 1999.
49 Andersson et al, Beyond Victims and Villains, pp. 53-57. CIETafrica researchers interviewed youth on three separate occasions, surveying 1,471 youth in 1998, 9,555 youth in 1999, and 16,338 youth in 2000. Youth were of school age ranging from ten to eighteen years of age, attending grades 8-12, and representing twenty-five schools in Johannesburg.
52 Ibid., p. 24.
53 Ibid., p. 56.
54 The proportion of the total budget allocated to education has remained virtually constant between 1995 and 1998, averaging 22 percent. Department of Education, Education for All: The South African Assessment Report 2000 (Pretoria: Department of Education, March 2000), p. xii. There has been an increase in overall expenditure on education, with expenditure increasing from R34.1 billion in 1995-96 to R45.2 billion during 1998-99. Per capita expenditure on primary school education is R2,370. Ibid.
55 The South African Schools Act, No. 84 of 1996.
56 The National Education Policy Act, No. 27 of 1996.
57 Ibid., Section 4.
58 Department of Education, Education for All Assessment, pp.10-11.
59 South Africa is divided into nine provinces, each with its own legislature. The 1996 constitution makes provisions for nine provinces, each with its own education department tasked with delivering education in accordance with the national education policy.
60 See E.M. Lemmer (ed.) et al., Education for South African Teachers, p. 152. A matriculation certificate is a prerequisite for tertiary education in South Africa.
61 Nearly a quarter of primary school educators are deemed not appropriately qualified (either unqualified or under qualified) by the government and their employment is allowed due only to a human resource shortage, especially in rural areas. Department of Education, Education for All Assessment, pp. 28-29.
62 Department of Education, Education for All Assessment, pp. 28-29.
63 Ibid., p. 30. Gross enrollment measures the total number of enrollees in primary school as a percentage of the total population of primary school age children. It differs from net enrollment by including in its count older pupils as well as the number of official grade-level pupils in each grade.
64 Ibid., p. 33. The Western Cape has the lowest student-teacher ratio and the highest budgetary allocation for primary education.
65 Ibid., p. 35.
66 Ibid., p. 36.
67 Ibid., p. 37.
68 The average score obtained by standard four students targeted in the 1999 South Africa Monitoring Learning Achievement (MLA) Survey was below 50 percent in all the tasks in which they were tested: literacy, numeracy, and life skills tasks. Department of Education, Education for All Assessment, p. xiv. Test scores for the year 2000 improved considerably over 1999. However, while more girls again registered for the exam, significantly fewer passed than their male peers. See Julia Grey, "Exam Results Show a Long Road Ahead," The Teacher (Mail and Guardian), January 11, 2001.
69 "Shocking Stats on Matric Pass Rate," available at http://www.news24.co.za, January 13, 2000 (accessed February 3, 2000).
70 According to a 2000 survey conducted by the South African Institute for Race Relations, only 6 percent of the population over the age of twenty had some form of post-matriculation education, and only 16 percent had completed grade 12. "Shocking Stats," available at http://www.news24.co.za (accessed February 3, 2000).
71 In 1999, although females made up 55.7 percent of the 511,474 candidates in all nine provinces, the number of females who passed was only 46.1 percent, compared to 52.3 percent for males. "Gender Gap in Matric Pass Rate," available at http://www.news24.co.za, January 1, 2000 (accessed February 3, 2000). In 1996, more girls than boys took matriculation exams in each province, but proportionally fewer girls than boys passed. "Schoolboys in a Class of their Own," Sunday Times, January 5, 1997.
72 Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic (Geneva, UNAIDS, June 2000), p. 9.
73 According to the U.N., the HIV/AIDS epidemic is eroding the supply of teachers resulting in increased class sizes, and ultimately diminishing the quality of education. With the teacher shortage expected to worsen, researchers calculate that over 71,000 children aged six to eleven will be deprived of a primary education by the year 2005. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, p. 29. See also "HIV/AIDS in Africa: Placing it High on the Agenda of ADEA," Association for the Development of Education in Africa Newsletter, vol. 12, no. 2, April-June 2000, pp. 4-6; Charlene Smith, "SA Faces AIDS-Related Education Disaster," Mail and Guardian, July 26, 2000.
74 Department of Education, Education for All Assessment, p. 42. See also Corina Pretorius, "Schools Gripped by Fear," Sunday Times, January 31, 1999.
75 Porteus, Tirisano: Towards an Intervention Strategy to Address Youth Violence in Schools, p. 6.
77 The South African Schools Act 84 of 1996, Section 10, prohibits the administration of corporal punishment in schools and provides for criminal sanction. See also Julia Sloth-Nielsen, "Corporal Punishment: Whipping Lobby Nears its Final Beating," ChildrenFirst vol. 3, no. 27, October/November, 1999. In Christian Education SA v. Minister of Education of the Government of South Africa, a private school challenged Section 10, asserting that the provision should be ruled unconstitutional and invalid to the extent that it prohibited the use of corporal punishment in independent or private schools. The Constitutional Court of South Africa affirmed the legality of the corporal punishment ban, concluding that whipping, whether judicially imposed or imposed in schools, is a violation of the constitutional right to be free from "all forms of violence, not to be tortured, and not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way." In S v. Williams, the South African Constitutional Court abolished whipping as a juvenile sentence to be imposed by courts.
78 Reports of corporal punishment frequently appear in local press. See Matthew Burbidge, "Principal Admits Supervising Pupils Beating," Mercury, March 15, 2000; Craig Bishop, "Religious Teacher on Trial After Pupil Dies from Beating," Sunday Times, September 26, 1999. According to Childline, reports of corporal punishment in schools made to Childline increased in 2000. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Joan van Niekerk, Childline, January 12, 2001.
79 Porteus, Tirisano: Towards an Intervention Strategy to Address Youth Violence in Schools, p. 29, citing S. Vally, Y. Dalamba, Racism, Racial Integration, and Desegregation in South African Public Secondary Schools (Pretoria: South African Human Rights Commission, 1999).
80 The Independent Projects Trust (IPT), a Durban based nongovernmental organization, examined ten Durban schools during 1997 to identify the sources and conditions promoting violence and possible ways to address the problem. IPT found gang-related violence and inadequate school security were significant problems for children. Children in nine of ten schools identified gang-related violence as the "number one" problem, with the worst reports coming from Kwa Mashu and Newlands East. Children were very familiar with the existence of gangs, knew the names of gangs, and knew which boys in school were affiliated with gangs. Human Rights Watch interview with Val Smith, IPT, March 29, 2000; Richard Griggs, Children at Risk: The Security Situation in Durban Schools (Durban: IPT, 1997).
81 Richard Griggs, "School Violence: A Culture of Learning About Drugs, Thugs, and Guns," ChildrenFirst, February/March 1998.
82 Common slang usage for marijuana.
83 Students in IPT focus group sessions spoke about a culture of silence; since they were the targets of gang activities, they were reluctant to reveal the severity of violence. Human Rights Watch interview with Val Smith, IPT, March 29, 2000.
84 Human Rights Watch interview with Alexandra township teacher, Johannesburg, March 27, 2000. One township teacher complained "We don't have security at our school. Thugs come right in and abduct girls as well as boys. There is no police presence. They only come if something is wrong."
85 See student essays contained in Appendix B. In the essays, children describe in their own words their experiences with and thoughts and feelings about crime and violence in their lives and schools. Student essays were provided by the Crime Reduction in Schools Program (CRISP), a program based at the University of Natal funded primarily by the South African Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Innovation Fund.