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School CP - August 2006
Mmegi, Gaborone, 28 August 2006
School Heads Ignore Caning
By Chandapiwa Baputaki
It is an illusion that headmasters will be present to witness instances of corporal punishment in their schools, as is required by Ministry of Education regulations. Even though the law requires the headmaster to be the witness to the administration of corporal punishment it is not the case in almost all the schools in Botswana.
"That is the expectation but the headmasters just assume that teachers are professionals who are to be trusted with students. They do not witness the administration but rather leave the whole thing to the teacher whom, they assume, will do it properly. Unfortunately given the circumstances there have been teachers who abuse that," said Moagi Mukokomani, a teacher at Meepong Community Junior Secondary School in Selebi Phikwe.
Mukokomani said that the teachers formerly believed in corporal punishment but stopped when the new headmaster told them that he does not agree with it.
"This has brought a lot of indiscipline in our school and the students are aware that they have the full backing of the headmaster. I support it wholly because from a young age children have to be taught right from wrong through corporal punishment," he said.
Last Friday, the Minister of Education, Jacob Nkate, told parliament that corporal punishment is incorporated into the domestic law and the ministry has no intention of abolishing it in the schools. The minister said that there are regulations that lay out the procedures of administering corporal punishment.
Caning should be 'moderate and reasonable and shall be administered only on the palm of the hand or across the buttocks with a light cane not more than a metre long and at the thickest end, not more than a centimetre in diameter.
"No male teacher except the school head shall inflict corporal punishment upon a female student. All corporal punishments shall be recorded in a register and every entry in the register shall be signed by the person who administered it and the person who witnessed it".
The regulations are intended to ensure that it is not excessive or abused to the extent of impinging on the dignity of the child. Nkate said that he is aware of isolated cases where improper application has occurred and has been investigated.
"Guidance and counselling programmes will fail us if it is not coupled with corporal punishment. The intention should not be to kill but to make the students understand right from wrong," Mukokomani said.
Botswana Daily News On Line, Gaborone, 29 August 2006
Ministry not aware of UN edict
PARLIAMENT - The Ministry of Education is not aware of any article in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that enjoins members states to abolish corporal punishment.
Answering a question in Parliament, education minister Jacob Nkate said member states had the right to take reservation of some of the articles of the convention if they deemed them to be in conflict with the culture and traditions of their societies.
Nkate said Botswana was compliant with many of the provisions of this convention and the view was that corporal punishment was not physical violence or abuse as alluded to in Article 19 of the convention.
Our reading of the local scenario is that corporal punishment is preferred by both parents and students to other sanctions such as detention, manual work, suspension, and expulsion which take away a child's meaningful learning time and sometimes their dignity which Article 28(2) refers to, he said.
Additionally, he said this convention was executed differently in different countries.
In the case of Botswana, the Education Act Cap 58:01, Nkate said it prescribed a strict framework within which corporal punishment was to be administered.
He said the entire part V11, Section 25-29 of the Education Regulations for Primary Schools and all part of V, Section 21-26 of the education Regulations for secondary schools lay out the procedures for administering corporal punishment.
He told Parliament that the regulations were intended to ensure that corporal punishment was not excessive or abused to the extent of impinging on the dignity of the child.
He was responding to a question from Gaborone South MP Akanyang Magama who had asked the minister whether Botswana had ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which enjoins member states to abolish corporal punishment; and if so, when did the government intend to incorporate into domestic law the obligation arising from this convention and consequently abolish corporal punishment in schools. BOPA
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