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Child abuse: Let’s protect students

E-mail: editor@sundayexpress.co.ls
E-mail: editor@sundayexpress.co.ls

THE Minister of Education and Training, ‘Makabelo Mosothoane, has, once again, broached one of the most sensitive topics as far as parents and guardians are concerned — that of child abuse in our schools.
This is an abhorrent act that can never be condoned by any rational member of society, yet the sexual abuse of children continues unabated in communities.
But the situation becomes more worrisome when the abuse is perpetrated by people who are supposed to be looking after these children, such as their own teachers.

Elsewhere in this issue, Minister Mosothoane laments the increasing reports of teachers who make sexual advances towards their students.
The fact that the learners report such action means the culprits would be known to the authorities, but hardly has the ministry publicly announced that stern measures have been taken to rid the education system of these miscreants.

In addition to cleansing the education sector, such decisive action would also act as a deterrent to potential abusers.
Yet we note with concern, that this is not the first time that the minister has made a similar remark.
Speaking at an Education For All campaign held in Leribe on 14 March this year, the minister warned teachers to stop the “deplorable behaviour” of molesting their students, which she rightly said was criminal and “tarnishes the moral fibre of our society.”

During the Leribe gathering, Minister Mosothoane urged the school authorities not to tolerate teachers found committing such “terrible” acts.
“A school is expected to be a place of joy for every student. It is their second home where they must find protection and not be abused. My ministry will work hard to ensure that students, across the country, are protected,” the minister is on record as having said.

On Thursday last week, Ms Mosothoane was at Assumption High School in Teyateyaneng, where she made almost similar remarks during a teachers’ meeting.
In-fact, the minister went further to say reports of students’ abuse are even escalating, instead of abating as expected, in light of her stern warning of three months ago.
This should be cause for concern to education authorities and must be evidence enough that their approach to the scourge has not been effective and must be changed if the situation is to be brought under control.
The minister makes even more disturbing remarks, as she has appealed to male teachers to help end this menace by exposing their colleagues who are in the habit of taking advantage of these vulnerable and impressionable adolescents.

This, unfortunately, is the reality of what the world has since become — a place where most people have lost their sense of collective responsibility and are only concerned about their own personal, if not narrow, interests.
This throws the ball right back into the ministry’s court to come up with more effective mechanisms that can ensure students are safe when they are at school, where there is no parental protection.
The next time the minister is attending such school gatherings, it would be heartening to hear her announcing that the situation is now under control—and that some of these lecherous culprits have been punished and blacklisted from ever standing in front of students in a classroom again.

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