oa Interim : Interdisciplinary Journal - Exploring sarcasm as a replacement for corporal punishment in public schools in South Africa

Volume 12, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1684-498X



The dawn of a democratic South Africa in 1994 established a society entrenched in Human Rights milieu. As such, public schools are meant to align their policies with the rule of the law. Particularly, section 10 (1) of South African Schools Act, 84 1996 (hereafter SASA) respectfully prohibits the administration of corporal punishment directed at a learner in public schools. The subsequent section 10 (2) of SASA admonishes that any person contravening section 10 (1) of SASA is liable on conviction to a sentence which could be imposed for assault. These mentioned provisions of the school legislation are consistent with section 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) which affords every person the inherent right to dignity of the person. Against the afore-mentioned legislative provisions, teachers have resorted to the use of sarcasm as a tool to inflict punishment in the manner that it could be equated with corporal punishment. Sarcasm is a form of language that is used to cause emotional and psychological harm, belittle, ridicule and humiliate the person it directed at. Judged against the provisions of the legislation governing schools in South African public schools, sarcasm could be said to be a direct violation of fundamental rights of learners to dignity of the person. In order to explore the intonation of sarcasm as supplement for corporal punishment the research paper employed a qualitative critical emancipatory research (CER) approach. Data gathered through a purposive sample of ten secondary teachers was analysed by the use of textual oriented discourse analyses.

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