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Jul 03, 2008 Letters
Mr. Michael Hackett jumps for joy every time a country abolishes all forms of corporal punishment (CP), as Costa Rica was the newest member to that addition.
Mr. Hackett always runs to Catholic literature whenever he wishes to advance his argument to end the use of CP in the schools of Guyana — a disastrous idea that will bring society to its knees as part of its effects.
He regularly uses the fact that the nation’s only Roman Catholic school, the Marian Academy, does not use CP, yet Mr. Hackett was known for his numerous letters (many of which were replied to by me) lambasting the holy Roman Catholic Church.
How convenient, Mr. Hackett, that on one side you attack the Catholic Church in no uncertain terms, and then you relish its non-belief in the use of CP — a notion which I am totally against up to this day.
I have seen the destruction to our moral and education system, over the past six years that I’ve been a school-teacher, from the reduced use of corporal punishment, since the big ruckus that many Guyanese organisations have made to put this form of punishment out for good — a feat that they’ve been very unsuccessful in accomplishing to date.
The use of CP, thank God, is very much still legal and permissible here in Guyana. The following document: ‘Ministry of Education Guyana Manual of Guidelines for the Maintenance of Order and Discipline in Schools, April 2002’ does cater for physical interventions by the school staff on learners.
Physical interventions must be appropriate and reasonable. Physical interventions may be used to/for: restrain a learner from an act of wrong doing, quell a disturbance threatening physical injury to others, and obtain possession of a weapon or dangerous object from a learner, self-defence, protection of persons or property, preservation of order.
Corporal punishment, according to the document — now six years old — must only be administered by the Head teacher, Deputy Head teacher, or assigned Senior Master or Mistress.
It must be restricted to be used in circumstances such as fighting, use of indecent language and gross insubordination.
The form of punishment must only be used in cases of continued display of unacceptable behaviours in grave circumstances. Learners must not be punished in the presence of other learners.
Males should be punished on their hands or on their buttocks, while females must be punished on their hands. In administering CP, the head teacher must use either a cane or strap no longer than twenty-four inches.
Each case must be documented in the school’s Misdemeanor Book. That information was given verbatim from the document.
“Guvament seh you cyant do me nuttin”.
Those were the words of children in Trinidad recently as the teachers there issued a statement of disgust, of feeling “disempowered” and “abandoned,” due to the fact that corporal punishment was banned in that country. Teachers there want it back, and quickly. Trinidad has one of the world’s highest murder rates.
A whopping eighty-three percent of teachers in that country agree to bring back CP in schools. I wish not to bring in Trinidad in this debate, or to even compare our Caribbean neighbour with Guyana — although I can in some instances, since Trinidad and Guyana share very much.
Let us not act and then be sorry later for our actions. I urge the Government to let the issue of CP be. Let it remain in the “controlled” state it is currently in, although even that is not doing us any good.
As I mentioned above, it can only be administered by senior educators within schools, and each act must be recorded. That’s not all bad. Let it remain this way for good. Do not change the current regulations.
I have not picked up a whip for nearly two years now. I have been using other methods of discipline outlined in the above-named school document, which every single school should have.
I do not whip children at the moment, Mr. Hackett. But that doesn’t mean that I would not recommend the punishment of lackadaisical learners to others who can. I would not whip until it is the right time for me to do so in my teaching career.
Leon Jameson Suseran
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