By Abena Rockcliffe
President David Granger is all for the abolition of corporal punishment in Guyana. In fact, he has said that the biblical quote, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is “backward.”
During a recent interview, Granger told reporters that there was a time when people confirmed faithfully to that guidance. “There was a time when (corporal punishment) was typical. People thought, spare the rod and spoil the child, but I think that is ancient and backward.”
The President said that a caring parent should use non physical means to uphold discipline within the home.
According to him, non-physical forms of discipline will foster psychological health. The President said that the child will learn to handle conflicts responsibly.
“When he or she goes to school they will already know how to reconcile with other children and when he or she gets married that child will already know how to solve conflict” said Granger.
Granger said that a child who is taught to solve a conflict by violent means will continue that cycle. “What we see happening in Guyana today is that many adults, as reported in the newspaper, can only deal with conflict by getting physical. You’re in the minibus; someone opens the window and rains come in and there seems to be only one way to deal with that. You go to a wedding house someone dances with your wife; that person may die.”
President Granger said, “We need to remove all forms of corporal punishment from the school and in the home. Maybe 50 years, 100 years ago it might have been typical but the days of going into a class room or a home and seeing the wild cane have passed. Intelligent educated parents must use different means which do not involve the application of force.”
Education Ministry guidelines on maintaining order speak to the regulated and documented use of corporal punishment in schools as a last resort, which must be sanctioned by the head teacher.
Children have, over the years, suffered injuries as a result of corporal punishment, and, in many cases, the teachers responsible for the injuries were not authorized to administer corporal punishment by their superiors.
There was a reported case of a student of West Ruimveldt Primary School who was severely beaten with a bamboo wrapped with adhesive tape because he had allegedly taken fire crackers to school.
Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine had declared that the abolition of corporal punishment in the nation’s schools is high on his agenda. “The environment cannot be a learning one if the problem of corporal punishment persists,” asserted Dr. Roopnaraine.
Corporal punishment, the minister posited, serves only as a demonstration of psychological scarring; additionally, he asserted that it is time classrooms are transformed into ideal places of learning.
The minister revealed that he intends to do whatever he could to adjust the relevant legislation and will, with every fiber of his being, strive to eradicate this problem from schools.
The Ministry of Education in 2007 had conducted a survey on the use of corporal punishment in schools. The survey revealed that 53 percent of schools use corporal punishment as a means of maintaining discipline.
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