Corporal punishment should not be abolished without full consultation
Stabroek News
July 31, 2001

Dear Editor,

The total abolition of corporal punishment would be unwise. Such a move cannot be done without the consideration of the professional teaching competencies and personality deficiencies of many of our younger teachers.

If corporal punishment assists in the maintenance of the physical and mental health of both teachers and pupils, in this instance its prohibition will lead to the deterioration of the well-being of all concerned.

The very first book of the Bible tells of God's punishment meted out to Adam and Eve for being disobedient. While the public may find it hard to agree on what is punishment, according to R.S. Peters in Ethics and Education - punishment is appropriately defined relative to discipline. Discipline connotes the submission to rules or some kind of order. Punishment is a prescribed form of suffering in penalty for breaking a rule or defying an order.

Laws and rules must be framed in accordance with the degree of the country's sophistication, development and necessity. As the need arises laws are made. Are we ready to pronounce on corporal punishment in schools?

"Until all teachers are professionally competent and free from personality deficiencies there is no point in recommending the total prohibition of corporal punishment" - A survey of rewards and punishments in schools.

We can only think of doing this when every school will have had its own welfare/councillor and parents themselves are educated enough to abolish their part in culture and corporal punishment.

The department of education needs to mandate qualified personnel in the education system to carry out surveys in order that proper decisions are made regarding controversial issues. This can be done at level of head teachers, senior and junior teachers, a sample of parents through the PAC/PTA and of the wider community. Sound decisions must be based upon such foundations and not from a few educated, isolated people. Corporal punishment is also tied in with the Rights of the Child organisation.

Today we have seen so many "rights" organisations which have wronged the fabric of our country's character. We have seen so many rights enshrined to take away others rights. The right to be whatever you want to be. The right to express yourself freely to the discomfort of others. The individual's right to express his cultural bias against an institution's rights to establish its rules and carry them out.

Swimming among all these rights which tend to overlap each other, the teacher is cluttered by values and counter values. They, the teachers, operate in fear of the wrath of some parents and the Ministry of Education and sometimes act against their conscience.

Most of the indiscipline stems from the lack of education in our homes and schools. Youths today complain a lot, it is hard to say who is right and wrong these days about anything. Standards and values exhibited in school are flagrantly denied in the home and in society at large, especially in the mass media.

According to Aristotle, moral virtues must be practised if we are to have them as we do the arts. Indiscipline on the part of the society stems from the desire to be different. It is hoped that there will be a revivalist revolution to address and arrest what have become symptoms of a national virus.

Yours faithfully,

R. Udho