Zuma described the beating of students as an unlawful violation of children's dignity and personal safety. He said action would be taken against those breaking the law. Corporal punishment was outlawed in September 1997.
"It is shocking that regardless of the outlawing of this barbaric form of punishment in schools, we still hear of cases where learners have been severely beaten by teachers. Some have been reported to have lost their lives," he said.
He was referring to the case in which a 14-year-old student, Sphamandla Choma, was brutally beaten by his school principal. As a result of the assault, the student was left paralysed and subsequently died after a few months.
Zuma spoke about social ills that need to be rooted out from schools, including high levels of teenage pregnancy, bullying, and crime in schools such as drug use and gang violence.
Zuma said these social ills are indicative of a failure by parents and teachers in guiding and teaching the youth, but he urged teachers and parents to not give up their work towards a brighter future for the youth.
In her congratulatory speech, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga condemned the killing of people for teaching positions, asking the audience to stand for a moment of silence for Priscilla Mchunu, 54.
The deputy principal of Laduma High School – who had been teaching at the school for almost 20 years - was gunned down by two armed men last week in front of her Grade 12 students in her classroom while giving extra lessons last week Saturday in Mpumuza, Edendale, KwaZulu-Natal.
Motshekga called on the South African Police Services (SAPS) to bring those guilty to book.
Zuma thanked teachers for performing well in their work, and emphasised the work done by public school teachers. As 2017 has been dubbed as the year of former ANC leader, President O.R. Tambo in commemoration of the centenary of his birth, the most coveted award was the O.R. Tambo Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award was won by Mahomed Farouk Bayat of New West Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal. The award was presented by Deputy Chairperson of the OR and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, Duma Nkosi, and Minister Angie Motshekga.
The equally coveted Professor Kader Asmal Award was won by Thandabantu Tennyson from the Eastern Cape.
The annual awards aim at acknowledging the hard efforts and excellence of teachers nationwide. -- News24