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School CP - November 2006

Corpun file 18675

Weekend Observer, Mbabane, 18 November 2006

St Mark's High gives the stick a yellow card

Head teacher of St. Marks High School Dominic Nxumalo, also secretary general of teachers organisation SNAT, has "partially" banned corporal punishment in the school.

Some teachers, however, who spoke to this newspaper vowed to defy the school laws and use the stick to correct behaviour because, 'the Bible' supported corporal punishment as articulated by King Solomon.

The partial ban entails that teachers are strongly discouraged from beating up pupils - but in the event they want to use a stick, they have to follow the Education Act, which, spells out a cumbersome administrative procedure.

The headteacher said St. Marks High pupils were not just "animals" supposed be first beaten up before taking the appropriate path. From now onwards, the school will follow the Act, said Nxumalo, adding that the stick's measurement should conform to the provisions of the Act.

In the event defiant teachers want to beat up pupils, the head teacher outlined that the school should use one stick and keep it in the head teacher's office and no pupil should be beaten up in public - and the number of strokes should conform to the provisions of the Act. Not every teacher is allowed to exercise corporal punishment as stated in the Act as it is the authority of the administration to ensure any punishment meted out to the pupil does not contravene sections of the legislation.

The following is stated in the Act;

- The school must use one stick.
- It must be kept in the head teacher's office - not in the staff room, classroom or anywhere.
- It must be 2.5 feet long. Its thickness must be half an inch diameter.
- Pupils must be beaten in the office of the head teacher.
- Pupils below the age of 16 years must receive a maximum of four strokes in the buttocks (strictly in the buttocks).
- Pupils over the age of 16 years must receive a maximum of six strokes on the buttocks (strictly on the buttocks).
- Before a pupil is canned [sic], the teacher must check the health condition of the pupil.
- Male teachers are strictly forbidden to exercise punishment on female pupils.
- The Act is silent on female teachers exercising punishment on male pupils.

He said the pupil should also be given a fair hearing before the teacher decide to thrash him.

"I told the teachers that had St. Marks High School been my private school I would absolutely abolish corporal punishment; completely outlawing it because it promotes violence and hardens the heart of the pupil. Seeing that it is a public school, I laid down the procedure and ordered the teachers to follow the Act to the letter," he said.

He said he was aware that certain teachers did not like the way he wanted pupils to be disciplined. "There are many ways to correct behaviour. I believe in positive discipline; that is to say engaging the pupils in dialogue," he said.

He said he used to beat up pupils in the past but ensured he first enquired the reasons for behaving in a manner that contravened school rules and regulations.

A teacher who preferred to remain anonymous in fear of becoming unpopular with the pupils said many St. Marks High pupils' behaviour needed to be corrected by the use of a stick. The teacher said he was aware of the partial ban of corporal punishment but vowed to cane the buttocks of the pupils. He said he was also beaten up when he was a pupil.

"I'm educated because teachers beat me up. I learnt to follow the right way because I knew that I would be caned if ever I went against the laws of the school. In order to correct behaviour, I am ready to use the stick - use it appropriately on the buttocks and legs of the pupils," said the defiant teacher.

Another one said corporal punishment was her cup of tea. She said there were many ex-pupils who came to congratulate her on leading them to right behaviour by appropriately using the stick in between the seasons.

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