On May 17, 2023, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) hosted the Positive Behaviour Day at the Positive Behaviour Intervention and Resource Centre (PBIRC) in Wynberg. The event aimed to address the challenge of learner discipline, which has been an ongoing issue since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rising Incidents of Anti-Social Behaviour
Over 400 incidents of fighting between learners were reported in 2022, with 158 incidents occurring in the first quarter of this year alone. To combat the rise in anti-social behavior, the WCED Positive Behaviour Programme spearheads various initiatives.
Comprehensive Strategy for Restorative Behavior
The strategy focuses on promoting positive and restorative behavior in schools, tackling bullying and abuse, while seeking solutions for healing. It aims to create caring school cultures through educator capacity building, learner and parent intervention programs, and awareness programs.
Equipping Teachers to Manage Disruptive Behavior
Every district has a positive behavior support program that equips teachers with strategies for dealing with disruptive behaviors in the classroom. These strategies include understanding rights and responsibilities based on the Labour Relations Act and Employment of Educators’ Act, alternatives to corporal punishment, and implementing relevant psycho-social programs for resilience.
Holistic Programs for Wellness, Awareness, and Leadership Development
Positive behavior programs address various aspects, such as behavior as a barrier to learning, trauma-informed schools, anti-bullying and anti-violence programs, restorative discipline, the vulnerability of boys, Circle of Courage, caring programs for teachers, prevention of gender-based violence, and substance abuse prevention.
Programs for improving wellness, awareness, self-appreciation, and leadership development feature integrated holiday programs, after-school activities, cleaning-up campaigns, back-to-school drives, debating teams, youth camps, leadership development, and life skills programs.
Encouraging Restorative and Strength-Based Perspectives
Positive Behaviour Day was attended by learners from neighboring schools, along with teachers, education psychologists, and social workers. Neville Goliath, Programme Manager, highlighted the importance of the Positive Behaviour programme, emphasizing the acquisition of values through real connections that build relationships.
The program offers alternative ways to deal with behavior instead of resorting to a punitive framework. Teachers are encouraged to adopt a restorative and strength-based perspective.
Support for Teachers in Stressful Situations
WCED district psycho-social support teams provide training and workshops within schools to help teachers manage stressful classroom situations and problem behavior. Schools can request support through the department’s support pathway, and online resources offer guidance and tips for teachers to apply in the classroom.
The Western Cape Education Department has taken a comprehensive approach to promoting positive behavior in schools. By equipping teachers with effective classroom management techniques, engaging learners in holistic wellness programs, and encouraging restorative and strength-based perspectives, the WCED aims to create caring and supportive school environments that foster positive relationships and long-term solutions for improved student behavior.