If you are on social media, you would likely have encountered video or audio tape of students that have posted to such media by teachers – which is problematic at many levels. From the loco parentis (“in the place of a parent”) angle, teachers are supposed to protect learners and not expose them to public ridicule.
Onkgopotse Thobega of Child Line Botswana says that they are unaware of this misconduct (which borders on child abuse) and none too pleased about it.
“We are aware of such incidents and find them very troubling because they are an attack on children’s human dignity,” says Thobega adding that this practice also amounts to cyber-bullying especially when it targets people who, like children, can’t defend themselves. “Even when children have done something wrong, it is still highly improper to film them and post the video on social media.”
With regard to the latter, Thobega reveals that Child Line has intervened in a case involving a student in Bobonong. The student stole some goodies in a shop, oblivious of the fact that his thieving expedition was being filmed by shopkeepers, who later confronted him and posted a video of the encounter on social media. Child Line interceded on behalf of the student and reported the matter to the police.
Child Line made similar intervention last year when a Molefi Senior Secondary School teacher video-taped a female student who had reportedly drank some chemical in the science laboratory and had a bad reaction to it. In no time, the video was posted to Facebook and went viral. However, the case fizzled out because the police couldn’t identify the culprit.
Many more videos shot by teachers continue to surface online. A recent one features two male lower-primary school pupils. One says that the other had, in the absence of their female teacher, told other students that he wanted to turn himself into a rat and set about nibbling on the teacher’s stock of “panties” until there was not a single stitch left. As she films this report, the teacher, who is off-frame, then summarises what the boy said to confirm that she got the story right: “O ta a ichencha peba, a bo a a ja diphenti tsame?”
Interestingly, these and many more incidents could imperil the job security of the teachers who post the videos on social media because it would be very easy to identify them. Having been launched two years ago, the Botswana Teaching Professionals Council is in the throes of setting practice standards. The standards would certainly prescribe punitive sanctions for teachers who post student videos online.