Apr 30, 2013 News Comments Off on GTU against abolition of corporal punishment
– says alternative methods not effective enough
As far as the issue of corporal punishment goes, the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) has said that it is totally against the abolition of what might very well be teachers only tool to better mold future generations.
According to the GTU General Secretary, Coretta McDonald, the body’s stance comes in light of the overwhelming cases of teachers being continuously assaulted by their students.
One Corentyne, Berbice teacher even lost her baby after she was assaulted by a relative of one of her students.
Corporal Punishment is something that has been much debated in homes, schools, among neighbours, friends, and as of recently, in the highest forum in the land- the National Assembly.
Since the subject is one of a more “touchy” nature, the consultation process has been quite lengthy, and still continues.
McDonald opined that the abolition of corporal punishment may prove to be disastrous for teachers, especially the many who are at risk when it comes to the more hostile children sitting within the confines of their classrooms.
While it may not be “ethical”, corporal punishment may very well be one of the only tools that teachers have to protect themselves against a generation today that has less, if any, regard for morals.
McDonald recalled that back in the days, elderly people were respected. She explained that during those days, any elderly person could have scolded a child for his or her wrongdoing, but children of today have way less regard for seniors.
A mother of five, and grandmother of two, Mavis Braithwaite, is of the opinion that teachers being assaulted is unacceptable, and that something should immediately be done to put an end to this “catastrophe”.
She too believes in the existence of corporal punishment, noting that had it not been for her fear of lashes from both her teachers and parents, she would not have been able to read or write.
“The same people who believe that we should do away with corporal punishment, they and all used to get licks in school, and I want them to genuinely ask themselves where they would’ve been without a few lashes…They should think back to the delinquents of their time, and remember the incidences where the lashes here and there proved to be beneficial for them,” the woman said.
It has been duly noted that years ago, students strove to ensure that they did their homework, and be on their best behaviour, with the hope of not having to face the wrath of their teachers and the famous “bamboo whips”.
With this in mind, some are of the view that the elimination of corporal punishment would be the first step in advocating the decline of civilization.
Braithwaite added that should the situation of utter disregard for respect and morals continue, Guyana will definitely find itself in a bad state.
One man who claims to be a Christian Preacher had more than enough to say. “There are bad students, disobedient ones, and beyond rude ones; there are bullies, but not the kind of school bullies we had back in the days. These are now big men and women. Bullyism in schools is now at a dangerous level.
“Children have knives and all sorts of weapons that they walk around with in schools; ice-pick is the most popular these days,” the man said.
The man who also claims to be a fourth form teacher of a reputable high school in Georgetown, said that he has had firsthand experience of some students even doing drugs in schools in their classrooms, and has urged that the Education Ministry launch an investigation into something that serious.
He added that high school students, especially the “big men”, are more well-known at “marijuana junctions” than in libraries.
“Before we move to take away corporal punishment from schools, we need to revise what is best for the students themselves. Our children while in schools are exposed to delinquents, who very much need guidance.
I remember just a few months ago where students were being murdered by their fellow students one after the other,” the man said.
He added that had corporal punishment been enforced, such incidents would not be occurring as repeatedly as they do today.
While some parents are of the opinion that their children should be punished for misbehaviour, others were skeptical about having “other people” hit their children.
“I don’t want my child coming home with her hands all bruised up,” one parent said.
During a previous interview, McDonald had said that while corporal punishment should be legal, it should also be governed by strict laws to ensure that teachers do not move from executing corporal punishment, to becoming abusive.
President of the GTU, Colin Bynoe, pointed out that corporal punishment entails a girl being given a few lashes in the palm, while a boy should be given those lashes on his buttocks.
Ms. McDonald is of the opinion that growing cases of violence in schools, can be attributed to the breakdown in family life where parents are working to make ends meet, and not finding the time to discipline their children.
“While parents go out there to make a living, not finding time to discipline their children, it is the teachers who are saddled with that responsibility, and they need something that they can use to establish their authority in the classroom. We always say that the school doesn’t make the child, because each child goes to school with his or her own attitudes and issues,” McDonald said.
In an effort to address the issue of badly behaved students and the threat that some of them pose to the safety of teachers, McDonald said that GTU is working towards starting a campaign to have meetings with residents of various communities to have them realize that it takes a community to raise a child.
“We need to get people to understand that being selfish isn’t going to get you anywhere. You won’t find somebody scolding a neighbour’s child these days, because everybody living too selfishly- you handle your child, I handle mine. Even aunts and uncles don’t scold their nieces and nephews anymore, because the first thing they gon say is that- me ain’t able fuh she tell me nothing fuh hollering pon she child.
“So that’s the way it is, and unfortunately, it is causing a strain on the school system, and it is affecting teachers. Teachers are terrified of even asking certain of their students a question…so what is this becoming to…” McDonald said.
During the course of last year, teachers were even advised to react accordingly, to students who try to assault them.
Ultimately, the Guyana Teachers’ Union is of the belief that no alternative measure is effective enough to deal with abusive and overly misbehaved students.
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