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School CP - March 2003

Natal Witness, Pietermaritzburg, 20 March 2003


Corporal punishment lives on

By Gabi Khumalo

THE general feeling from many of those interviewed, including some pupils, was that corporal punishment is the best way to instil discipline in the classroom.

Parent Thobekile Mnqayi (45), from Willowfountain, subscribes to that view. Mnqayi believes there is nothing wrong with corporal punishment as long as teachers use a cane and not their fists.

She said corporal punishment is the only way to control pupils' behaviour.

"They are uncontrollable because they know that they have rights.

"The cane is number one because it prepares them to face the future, which needs tough people, and they should know that failure to obey the school rules will lead to corporal punishment," said Mnqayi.

She said government made a mistake by abolishing corporal punishment as this has affected education.

Pupils fail to do their homework and misbehave in the classrooms because they know that no one will beat them, said Mnqayi.

"Pupils will continue to misbehave because they know that corporal punishment is no longer there but the problem is that when they fail at the end of the year the parents blame the teachers," said Mnqayi.

Bettina Ngcobo (56) from Imbali believes that corporal punishment worked for her generation and she said it is frustrating that teachers are no longer allowed to use corporal punishment to discipline pupils in the classroom.

"They (teachers) don't have a choice but to stop it because, if they continue to beat the children, they might find themselves on the wrong side of the law. It's not fair but they have no choice," said Ngcobo.

Ngcobo said that through corporal punishment pupils learn to be responsible and disciplined.

"This is what we want but since children know that it is against the law there is no longer discipline in schools and teachers' lives are being threatened on a daily basis.

"What can we do?" asked Ngcobo.

However, another parent, Sibusiso Ngcobo from Imbali, said parents should take responsibility for their children's bad behaviour at school.

He said that if teachers have a problem with a pupil at school, they should contact the parents because in most cases pupils who fail to obey school rules often have no discipline at home.

"Beating unruly pupils will not solve any problem; rather suspend them for a period of time or let their parents handle the problem," said Ngcobo.

Zama Mbhele, a Grade 10 pupil at a local school, is strongly opposed to corporal punishment as she believes there are alternatives, such as ordering a child to pick up litter inside the school premises or cleaning the toilets.

"Corporal punishment is completely wrong. If a child is always absent or skips lessons they should call their parents and suspend the culprit," she said.

Another Grade 10 pupil, Mandisa Nzimande from Grange, said that although she is not against corporal punishment, some teachers are overdoing it.

"Teachers need to co-operate with our parents and come up with an alternative to corporal punishment.

"I think parents should decide whether corporal punishment is good or bad for their children," she said.

Sli Mtolo, also a Grade 10 pupil, said corporal punishment is not bad but there has to be a limit.

She said, for example, that two strokes on the hand is acceptable. "Beating females on the buttocks is definitely wrong.

"I think that if a pupil is involved in a serious case, the school should inform the parents and in minor cases they should punish us with two strokes and nothing more," she said.

Grade 8 pupil Sipho Mkhize from Imbali said: "Corporal punishment makes you responsible and disciplined because you get worried when you do not complete your homework."

He believes it was a mistake to ban corporal punishment as this frustrates teachers who have to deal with pupils who take things for granted because they know that they will not be disciplined.

However, Mkhize said that teachers should control themselves and avoid taking out their frustrations on pupils.

Grade 9 pupil Nokulunga Sibiya believes that corporal punishment is not the solution but that it rather creates more problems.

"If you know that you did something wrong at the school and know that you are going to be punished, you end up not going to school.

"Teachers hit you for coming late to school. Our parents know that we have a transport problem but the teachers don't listen to us, they beat us," said Sibiya.

Samkelo Zondi, a Grade 12 pupil, said that he will not allow teachers to beat him because his parents speak to him politely.

"You can talk to a child without using corporal punishment; it does not help but creates hatred.

"Most teachers abuse us and we get beaten up for whispering to our classmates," said Zondi.

Grade 11 pupil Philisiwe Xulu said that if it was not for corporal punishment, she would still have been in Grade 4.

Xulu thinks that corporal punishment produces good results because pupils submit their homework in time for fear of being punished.

"During trial examinations teachers forced us to get 100% and failure to do so got us punished very hard and that helped us to produce excellent results.

"Through corporal punishment I'm confident of myself because I know that I will pass with flying colours," said Xulu.

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