Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini has bemoaned the banning of corporal punishment‚ saying that the rod would "make learners perform well".
Speaking at a meeting of principals and school governing bodies from the Umkhanyakude and King Cetshwayo districts in Esikhawini‚ northern KwaZulu-Natal‚ on Tuesday‚ he said that discipline had to be enforced.
Zwelithini is the patron of education in the province.
"This thing of not disciplining our children is letting us down because children are not disciplined. What we disagree with is when there is a complaint that the child was not being disciplined‚ but being killed‚" he said.
Although corporal punishment was abolished in the country in terms of the Schools Act of 1996‚ some teachers are still administering it. In the King Cetshwayo district last month‚ seven teachers were served with suspension letters on a single day for‚ among other things‚ administering corporal punishment.
Speaking at the same event‚ KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education's deputy director general for curriculum development‚ Dr Barney Mthembu‚ implored principals to ensure that there is no repeat of the group copying scandal which rocked the Class of 2014.
Mthembu said the lives of those learners who were implicated in the 2014 group copying scandal were at a standstill while those teachers who assisted them were continuing with their lives.
"I am talking today there are learners who are still trying to pursue their cases. Their lives are at a standstill. People who gave them answers are continuing with their lives. Their children in universities. These children who were assisted unnecessarily‚ their lives are at a standstill."
He said some of those learners who were cleared of cheating were still finding it difficult to get their matric certificates because it took time for Umalusi - the examinations oversight body - to clear their records.
"But the best thing is not to have what we call group copying. We must ensure that there is no group copying‚" said Mthembu.
A total of 3‚000 learners across South Africa were implicated in the group copying scandal in 2014. In KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape‚ the results at 153 examination centres were investigated by the Department of Basic Education.
With 19 days to go before the start of the matric exams‚ the KwaZulu-Natal department of education said it had launched a final push for its 76% matric pass rate target for this year.
"We're confident that the work we've covered has enabled our learners to absorb 90% of the work. We have prepared our learners well and we're launching the final push‚" said KZN head of department Dr Enock Nzama.
Zwelithini also spoke strongly against the killing of teachers in schools and urged the government to protect them.
"The death of one teacher is one too many. Teachers are also human beings. It's important that if we set up commissions of inquiry because politicians are being killed‚ there must also be commissions for teachers as well."
He made mention of the recent incident at Edalinceba Primary School in Duduza‚ Nigel‚ in Gauteng where the deputy principal was shot and killed in his office. He said this and other similar incidents across the country could have an emotional and psychological impact on learners.