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www.corpun.com   :  Archive   :  2004   :  GY Schools Jun 2004

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GUYANA

School CP - June 2004



Corpun file 13598

masthead
Stabroek News, Georgetown, 18 June 2004

Keep corporal punishment in schools - workshop

The National Workshop on Discipline without Beating yesterday said corporal punishment should be retained in schools. In this photo, a parent signs the signature campaign in support of the position. (Ken Moore photo)

Corporal punishment should be retained in the school system, stakeholders at the National Workshop on Discipline without Beating agreed yesterday.

The understanding that children in schools across the country should be physically disciplined was reached at the conclusion of the two-day workshop conducted by the National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Children's Fund.

Chairman of the NCRC, First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo told the gathering yesterday that the understanding that corporal punishment should be retained in schools was shared by both adults and students at the workshop.

It was agreed that guidance programmes should be created in schools and stakeholders should examine why corporal punishment is not used in some schools.

The need for effective conflict resolution in schools and the wider society was also recommended together with a better understanding of corporal punishment and discipline.

Guyana is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which in February declared that Guyana should expressly prohibit corporal punishment by law in the family, schools and other institutions.

As it relates to corporal punishment in the home the workshop did not take a position. Though the issue was debated during the sessions, stakeholders directed their focus to the school system.

NCRC launched a signature campaign yesterday seeking to find out whether children should be beaten in school. Children below age 18 are not permitted to sign.

Some 50 schoolchildren from across the country were involved in the workshop as well as teachers, officials of the Education Ministry, parents and interested parties.

Recommendations from the workshop presented to Education Minister Dr Henry Jeffrey yesterday said workshops on parenting skills should be conducted in every region.

Similar workshops have been planned for New Amsterdam, Anna Regina, Linden, Mabaruma and Bartica to spread the word that there are effective alternatives to beating.

Several persons at the workshop yesterday raised concerns about the signature campaign saying that the word 'beaten' should be substituted by corporal punishment since beating connotes violence.

The Teaching Service Commission (TSC) recently took disciplinary action against two city primary school teachers found to have beaten two students, one of whom suffered a broken arm.

© Stabroek News


Corpun file 13597

masthead
Stabroek News, Georgetown, 19 June 2004

Christian forum urges retention of corporal punishment in schools

Says church must play greater role

Even before the National Workshop on Discipline without beating agreed to keep corporal punishment in the school system, sections of the local Christian community had rejected plans to outlaw it in the home and in schools.

On Monday, nearly 200 people attended a public forum on the Nurture and Discipline of Children, including appropriate Corporal Punishment, where most participants agreed that beating children as prescribed in the Bible is still valid today. It was argued that the state is violating the sanctity of the family by trying to legislate punishment, which it was felt could be lovingly, feelingly, and sparingly applied.

The forum was sponsored by the Georgetown Ministers Fellowship and the Guyana Evangelical Fellowship, which represent some local Pentecostal and Evangelical churches.

The church is being urged to adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach to the issue, especially in the wake of recent student attacks on teachers, which some participants felt reflected the continued degeneration of the fabric of society.

The growing trend of indiscipline in schools in Trinidad and Tobago prompted a study on combating violence and indiscipline which has recommended reintroducing corporal punishment as a solution.

The church groups started a signature campaign to get support for retaining corporal punishment and said they planned to canvass parliamentarians, much like they did before the passage of the Fundamental Rights Bill, which is still to be assented to by the President.

They were very critical of the conference on alternatives to corporal punishment, especially the survey that was carried out among Primary and Secondary level students to determine if they were in favour of maintaining beatings in school.

Pastor O'Brian Welch, in a presentation on God's idea of the family, urged that the guidelines prescribed by God in the Holy Bible be followed and that there be allowance for the rod of reproof.

He also challenged the church to preach the gospel without fear or favour, adding that if the church believes what it preaches, it should preach what it believes.

Yvonne Osman, looking at nurturing disciplined children, emphasised the importance of training children while they are very young. She said parents must lead by example but said they must also set boundaries for their children who must be praised for the good they do and censured for their mistakes. She said corporal punishment must however be administered only when necessary, although it should be done with affection and understanding.

"Even though it is painful for the child, it is also painful for the parent," Osman added.

Although two years ago the Ministry of Education set out strict guidelines for administering corporal punishment, there have been complaints about excesses.

But some participants noted with concern recent instances of violence in schools. One of the cases cited was where a Primary One student attacked a teacher with a broken bottle.

There was also some worry about the approach of the church, which was said to be merely responding to symptoms, while ignoring the real problems. It was feared too that without early intervention some children might end up on the wrong side of the law.

Lorri Alexander, of the Concerned Parents for Real Rights of the Child group, agreed with a point that the church is reacting in a slow fashion.

He also cited the recent developments in T&T, where reintroducing corporal punishment was proposed as one of the immediate measures to be implemented by the Ministry of Education, a report published in the Trinidad Express said.

Education Minister Hazel Manning said the previous administration's haste to provide secondary school places for all students in 2000 contributed significantly to the current crisis in which pupils were entering a system inadequately prepared and the teachers were not trained to attend to their needs.

She added that poor leadership in the management of some schools, teacher absenteeism, and tardiness which resulted in unsupervised students for long periods contributed to the problem.

Manning also said that the social and domestic issues which overflow from the home into the classroom, poor physical school environment, including the lack of proper equipment and supplies and inadequate school security contributed to the problem.

The report, done by Professor Ramesh Deosaran recommended that corporal punishment, governed by strict controls and conditions, "be put in place for its use in schools for a three-year period, during which time a close study will be made of its efficacy and consequences for both teachers and students."

"We cannot be guided purely by foreign research, nor by ungrounded philosophy, not when the teachers, parents and even students believe that at least the threat, if not the actual use, of corporal punishment is a deterrent to many students."

But it was added that corporal punishment should not be seen as the only method of student control, but as an extreme and rarely used part of achieving classroom management and student discipline.

Deosaran conceded that the policy and practice of beating children in schools has been and still is quite bothersome.

Of the 145 teachers and parents consulted all but two supported corporal punishment in schools, but with some controls.

Manning said the ministry will continue to implement the proposals and the benchmarks provided will allow the ministry to scientifically monitor the effectiveness of the strategies.

© Stabroek News




Corpun file 13973

Kaieteur News, Georgetown, 27 June 2004

Corporal punishment in schools

Thy rod and staff discomfort me

Over the years, educational directives have changed drastically concerning the administration of corporal punishment by education professors and instructors.

However, this issue has sparked widespread debate on the local as well as international fronts.

Some teachers argue that the abolishment of corporal punishment in schools was not necessary. However most agreed that whenever this type of punishment is meted out, it should be with the greatest amount of caution.

In an interview with the country’s highest teaching institution, Cyril Potter College of Education, a senior officer told Kaieteur News that she was not an advocate for the removal of corporal punishment.

She said though, that it should be there only as an extreme form of discipline when all the other options have been exhausted.

“If it should be used, it should be done only by the headmaster and should not lead to physical harm for the student,” the official said.

One teacher at St. Stanislaus Secondary School said that she is not in favour of corporal punishment but remarked that students, now, are extremely ill mannered.

“I never grew up under corporal punishment and I’m not in favour of it. People now tend to abuse children. I don’t beat my children or nobody else’s.”

Another instructor at a city primary school took a neutral stance and mentioned the reason for her impartiality.

“I cannot (unequivocally) state if I’m for or against it but there are some children you just have to use the cane on. It should not get to the stage where children are brutalised but it should be done under the strictest of supervision, because such punishment could have psychological effects on them.

"However, there are instances where you have the breakdown in discipline and students are even hitting on teachers."

In light of the fact that some students have been hospitalised following disciplinary action meted out to them by educational instructors, one teacher explained that corporal punishment does not mean using a rod.

Kaieteur News also spoke with Mrs. Sybil Watson on the types of punishment in her day as compared to the more contemporary measures.

Mrs. Watson celebrated her 74th birth anniversary yesterday and went to school during the 1930s.

She confirmed that the methods of punishment were very rigid but pupils back then were not as indisciplined.

"We had a headmistress, Eugene Martindale. When you misbehave the boys got licks on their seat and the girls in their hand."

Mrs. Watson, who is slimly built, energetic and entertaining revealed her days back in school.

"In secondary school if you went late, talked in class or did not do homework you got six lashes. But I was a Grade A student," she said proudly.

As if reminiscent of a particular time, Watson added, "But I was sometimes late."

She told of the days when children were made to comb their hair in four plaits with red ribbon bows tied to the back; this played a crucial role and was an important part of discipline.

"There were no cornrows or fancy hair designs like the ones I see now," she said in a tone that displayed a hint of approval.

Watson remembers vividly her headmaster, Robert Harte, who was the Principal of the Enterprise High School.

She told of Mr. Harte’s outlandish peculiarity of requesting that students turn over to him any pen or pencil they might have found, a simple method of instilling honesty in students.

But the severest punishment that has been eternally etched in her memory was an incident where a child was expelled for having a book in his possession that did not belong to him.

"I felt very sorry for him because I don’t know if any other school would have accepted him."

She describes her school days as ‘good old days’ though, with scholarly friends in an extremely disciplined school environment.

When asked to compare the conventional disciplinary methods to that of modern times, Watson said that these days the punishment is too harsh.

"You see back then, we were disciplined with a few lashes in the hand or on the buttocks, not beaten with a stick across the back and all over the body."

She decreed that teachers must go back to the ancient ways of disciplining children.

Mrs. Watson expressed concern that children now are allowed to absent themselves from school without a legitimate excuse or without carrying a note from parents.

Mrs. Watson commented that head teachers even visited homes in the event that the child was not to be believed.

"If you walked with a boy the headmaster announced that the boy would have to wear a tag saying that he was your brother or he would pay a visit to your parents to find out who the boy was."

That is just to show how particular the school system was long ago. Even now, there is a direct relationship between the suitable home environment and a child who performs creditably well at school.

However, parents now join with children to hurl abuses at teachers and lament about corporal punishment, resisting authority and disregarding school regulation.

Contradistinctively, these same parents who denounce the so-called 'uncivilised treatment' of their children in school are themselves instruments of brutality.

In the olden days those who were particularly repulsive were made to stand with their face to the corner or with their hands on the head.

At home the children were told to kneel on hand graters or with something weighty in hand.

Last week, Antigua voted to sustain the use of corporal punishment in schools after a move by UNICEF to abolish the disciplinary measure.

A representative of the Ministry of Education in Antigua had said that they were not willing to have such punishment abolished in the face of tyrannical behaviour exhibited by some students in schools.




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