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School CP - December 1999

Corpun file 5054

The Guardian, Dar es Salaam, 14 December 1999

Corporal Punishment Should be Abolished in Schools

Recommendation to ban corporal punishments

Inflicting strokes of the cane on a young scholar is a traumatic and unforgettable experience. This is likely the reason primary school pupils, who were recently given the chance to ask President Mkapa questions, raised this nasty issue.

A parent himself, President Mkapa has said he abhors corporal punishment because it is an abuse of human rights. He has asked parents to give their recommendations so that the government can eventually ban the use of the cane in school at whatever level.

Any parent who is in favour of corporal punishment must, indeed, be a very rare specimen. For he believes that without beating an erring child with the cane, the child will not learn and behave well.

Psychologists, educationists and good parents surely do not accept such an attitude of mind, saying the use of the cane does not necessarily make a child learn better or faster or behave well in society, at home or elsewhere.

First of all, the cane will likely make a child fear going to school, thus defeating the whole purpose of education. If such a child goes to school for fear of being caned again his learning will be beset with psychological problems which may affect his whole adult life.

We are, therefore, saying very loudly that corporal punishment in schools should be abolished without any undue delay, for, it serves no useful purpose whatsoever. However, we are not saying that young scholars should not be punished if they go against school rules and regulations. They should know that there is an authority which makes sure that there is social order, whether at school, at home or elsewhere.

We are also saying that good behaviour does not come by accident. A child acquires it as he grows. This means it is the family which lays the foundation of a child's good or bad behaviour.

A family which is not strict with a child is to blame if this child does not respect rules at home and at school. Parents should not expect teachers to correct the bad behaviour of their children if they themselves do not guide their children properly in the first place. A parent can, and should, be strict without being cruel. His child soon learns that his parent is not a sadist and will respect him.

However, taking proper care of a child is becoming more difficult, especially in urban centres. It is likely that both parents are workers, leaving the care of their child or children in the hands of an under-paid, under-aged housemaid. Such a child is likely to acquire behaviour which does not have any good direction.

Visiting corporal punishment on such a child is a waste of time and energy. The child might end up hating his teachers, his parents and the society at large. He might become a drug user and pusher, a jailbird or even a murderer.

It is therefore important that the up bringing of a child in the family should be as good as humanly possible and should start as early as a child begins to comprehend social values.

Parents should understand that being strict with a child is not cruelty. A child without parental guidelines will be lost in the society, whether at school or elsewhere, as a rudderless ship in a raging storm in the deep sea.

The increasing number of such bewildered young men and women is a manifestation that the society is failing in its role to bring up good citizens. Recommending that corporal punishment in schools be banned with immediate effect for it Is totally useless, we appeal to parents, teachers and other members of the society to make sure that they bring up children who do not need to be punished to go to school.

Copyright © 1999 GGRD Ltd.

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