|Learner misconduct in public schools appears to be a serious problem worldwide. In South Africa there appears to be a deterioration of sound conduct and self-discipline among learners. Moreover, this situation seems to have a negative effect on the learning and teaching environment in our schools. The objectives of this research were to investigate learner misconduct and to determine: • What the nature of learner misconduct is by means of a literature study; • What causes learner ill-discipline in general; • The forms and frequency of learner misconduct; • What methods are used by educators in disciplining learners in general and in particular at Jouberton Secondary Schools; •Which additional methods can be implemented to deal with learner misconduct; and • The legal environment in dealing with learner misconduct. A literature study, the quantitative method and the empirical investigation were applied in
order to achieve the above-mentioned objectives. The target population comprised 509 Learners and 50 educators in the Secondary Schools of Jouberton. The study revealed that discipline is characterized by factors such as fairness, protection, order, total development, and correctiveness and none punitiveness. The empirical research was conducted by means of a structured questionnaire. It revealed that there was some consensus between the teachers and learners concerning the effectiveness of methods in dealing with learner misconduct. However, pertaining to the majority of methods there was no consensus between the teachers and the learners. Some of the most effective methods identified were proper preparation of lessons, positive
discipline, reward, discussions with the parents, visits to the principal, regular prayers by educators, a system of classroom rules, and referring to the principal. Some of the methods deemed not to be successful were detention, isolation outside the classroom, isolation within the classroom, referral to the school governing body and community service. Legal determinants relevant to learner misconduct were entered into in this study. These determinants entailed statutory law, common law and case law. It was dealt with through the S.A Constitution, the Schools Act, the National Education Policy Act, Subordinate legislation
and a number of examples of international law such as Convention on the rights of the child, African charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child, Declaration on Social and Legal Principles Relating to the Protection and Welfare of the learner, with Special Reference to Forster Place and Adoption Nationally and Internationally and Declaration in the Promotion Among Youth of the Ideals of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding Between People’s Rights.
The findings showed that both teachers and learners agree to the fact that proper lesson
preparation by the teacher and meetings with parents of learners are to be rated as very effective. However, in general, teachers and learners differed in their view pertaining to the effectiveness of the various methods. On the other hand, taken as a whole, both learners and teachers gave preference to a positive approach , rather than a punitive in dealing with learner misconduct.