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School CP - February 2009

Corpun file 21129

Sunday Stabroek, Georgetown, 22 February 2009

Breaches of flogging rules will not be condoned - Baksh

By Stabroek staff

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Education Minister Shaik Baksh says breaches of the rules governing the administering of corporal punishment in schools will not be condoned.

He made the statement following a mass protest by students of the Berbice High School over the suspension of a teacher for flogging. On Friday, with the support of the school's Parent Teachers Association (PTA), hundreds of school's students protested the teacher being sent on leave for allegedly flogging students, including girls, with a bamboo rod on their buttocks after they failed to submit assignments on time. Protesting students blocked entry to the school compound during the protest. Members of the PTA said the protest would continue on Tuesday, as tomorrow is a national holiday.

"Any teacher who breaches the rules will be put before the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) for disciplinary procedures," Baksh told Stabroek News yesterday, while noting that rules are set out in a manual for the maintenance of order and discipline, including when corporal punishment should be administered. "I will not stand idly by and allow the rules to be flouted," he said.

Referring to the incident at the school, he said it was clear that the teacher's actions were totally against the rules, which stipulate that corporal punishment should not be administered for school work. He also noted that the teacher flogged 31 students and one of the students had to seek medical attention.

He said the teacher was subsequently sent on leave on the order of the TSC. Although the Chief Education Officer (CEO) had written a letter advising that the teacher should return to duty, Baksh said she cannot be reinstated until the conclusion of its investigation. He, however, added that the TSC is expediting its investigation.

Meanwhile, Baksh was critical of the decision of the PTA to involve children in the protest, saying the action would not get it anywhere. He said it was regrettable that children were involved in the episode. "I hope good sense will prevail and students will be back in the classroom where they belong," he added, while saying that the ministry would review the participation of the executive of the PTA.

He also accused representatives of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) of trying to sweep the issue of corporal punishment under the carpet, though he also pointed out that teachers turned up at the school for duty.

Baksh also said that there is also a policy implementation monitoring unit headed by a deputy chief education officer that monitors the policies across the sector, including the rules governing corporal punishment.

2008 Stabroek News. All rights reserved.

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