Learner discipline in South African public schools – a qualitative study


Childrens Rights
Learner Discipline
Causes Of Learner Misconduct
Proactive Measures


Recent research has shown that the involvement of youth in the liberation struggle which ended in 1994 caused them to develop arrogance towards adults, that is, both educators and parents. Another reason for the decline in the level of discipline in recent years might be the overemphasis on human rights, especially children’s rights, in reaction to the increase in child abuse or the lack of a human-rights culture in the apartheid era.

A lack of learner discipline may seriously hamper the teaching and learning process, and, if disruptive behaviour prevails, education cannot be successful. This article focuses on educators’ positive and negative reactions to learner misconduct in South African public schools, as revealed by qualitative data gathered by means of interviews, as part of a national research project on learner discipline. Fourteen schools were visited by a group of researchers and field workers, during which principals, other educators and learners were interviewed.

Special reference is made to forms of learner misconduct that have the most prominent influence on discipline, possible causes of these, and preventative or proactive measures taken by educators to restore or maintain learner discipline. Value-driven approaches to discipline and to approaches that might be educationally unsound, are also incorporated. All the mentioned approaches are evaluated from within a reformational framework.

Copyright information

  • Ownership of copyright in terms of the Work remains with the authors.
  • The authors retain the non-exclusive right to do anything they wish with the Work, provided attribution is given to the place and detail of original publication, as set out in the official citation of the Work published in the journal. The retained right specifically includes the right to post the Work on the authors’ or their institutions’ websites or institutional repository.

Publication and user license

  • The authors grant the title owner and the publisher an irrevocable license and first right and perpetual subsequent right to (a) publish, reproduce, distribute, display and store the Work in  any form/medium, (b) to translate the Work into other languages, create adaptations, summaries or extracts of the Work or other derivative works based on the Work and exercise all of the rights set forth in (a) above in such translations, adaptations, summaries, extracts and derivative works, (c) to license others to do any or all of the above, and (d) to register the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for the Definitive Work.
  • The authors acknowledge and accept the user licence under which the Work will  be published as set out in https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ (Creative Commons Attribution License South Africa)
  • The undersigned warrant that they have the authority to license these publication rights and that no portion of the copyright to the Work has been assigned or licensed previously to any other party.

Disclaimer: The publisher, editors and title owner accept no responsibility for any statement made or opinion expressed by any other person in this Work. Consequently, they will not be liable for any loss or damage sustained by any reader as a result of his or her action upon any statement or opinion in this Work. 
In cases where a manuscript is NOT accepted for publication by the editorial board, the portions of this agreement regarding the publishing licensing shall be null and void and the authors will be free to submit this manuscript to any other publication for first publication.

Our copyright policies are author-friendly and protect the rights of our authors and publishing partners.