Masters Graduate Examines Primary School Teachers’ Perceptions and Management of Bullying
Teachers’ perceptions and management regarding bullying in a primary school in KwaMashu, Durban, were explored by Ms Sinenhlanhla Mbambo during research for her Master’s degree in Education which she achieved summa cum laude.
While involved in her studies, Mbambo’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. ‘I lost her to the disease. I am her only daughter and was very close to her so I struggled with depression which had a negative effect on my work performance.
‘Primary school teachers’ perceptions on bullying and their ability to manage the problem are still limited within the South African context,’ said Mbambo. ‘I personally encountered a number of physical and verbal learner-on-learner bullying incidents in the school and each time I was uncertain how to manage the situation professionally,’ she said.
‘I ended up using my own tacit knowledge in managing things. I was interested to find out how other teachers managed bullying and how effective their efforts were in so doing as teachers are regarded as agents of change,’ said Mbambo.
She found the teachers’ management strategies were fragmented and self-coordinated, while certain barriers hindered the management process of bullying.
Mbambo believes her study may be useful in developing teachers’ understanding of the issue and would strengthen their management skills in handling bullying in their schools. ‘In turn, this might help provide quality education for schoolchildren and create some level of hope for victims of bullying.
‘The Department of Education may see the need and offer support required by in-service teachers to manage bullying effectively in their schools. Teacher training institutions may also gain insights on the pre-service teacher training curriculum in terms of equipping them with effective procedures to manage bullying once they are qualified,’ said Mbambo.
Said supervisor Dr Fumane Khanare: ‘Mbambo is my first summa cum laude student! Last year, I had a student who graduated cum laude and became instrumental in the success of Mbambo and other students as she shared her experiences. From her successes and challenges, Mbambo learned a lot and together we aimed higher. My role is to unleash the potential of students.’
Mbambo, who has enrolled for a PhD at UKZN, had this advice for other students: ‘Nothing is impossible if you are focused. Develop a great working relationship with your supervisors. Be organised, have a work plan and stick to it.’