Perhaps the method of training teachers needs to be assessed
Stabroek News
October 6, 2001

Dear Editor,

I was physically disgusted to read about the incident in which schoolgirl Kaloutie Mohan received indirect injuries from the beating of another school child. Some years ago, when I returned for a long visit to Guyana, I spent some time in a primary school because I wanted to confirm my long held belief that we had a

high standard of education there. On the whole I was impressed by the effort of the teachers and assistant teachers to cope with the rather scant teaching materials. Teachers everywhere will complain about the lack of resources so I appreciate the relativity of this problem. However, I was surprised at the method of 'ruler chopping' children's knuckles who could not form letters with a degree of precision and in the designated boxes. These children aged between 3-5 - seemed generally petrified.

I know that some people will say that I came as an outside observer with all my outsider prejudices, which will naturally be critical of traditional Guyanese practices. This is not so. I just felt at the time that the method did not seem to be of benefit to anyone, except perhaps to satisfy the frustration of some of the teachers who inflicted the punishments. Yes, there needs to be an appreciation of the quality of education and the means of deriving that standard. I was left thinking that although corporal punishment still existed, this did not imply that the quality of education had improved or was still high. In fact, I thought that it seemed lower than the standard I was expecting.

I wonder if these acts of violence against children, and let's call it what it is, is born of inherent frustration or the inability to bring out the best in these pupils? This of course is the essence of education. If these teachers are having problems achieving this important requirement then perhaps they need to consider what they themselves have within. Perhaps the whole method of training teachers needs to be assessed to ascertain how teachers deal with problematical behavioural situations, and with the aim of revising disciplinary procedures. Schools should be the second safest place for a child outside the home, not a breeding ground for fear. I am also troubled that Kaloutie Mohan's mother did not want to say anything because of 'her religion'. Why is this? Is the welfare/well being of children not featured in this 'religion'? I worry that Kaloutie's mother also seems fearful. I'm of the view that the rod should be spared (or at least left at home), but if the rod cannot be spared, then at least let's spare a thought for these children please. This sort of thing should not be happening.

Yours faithfully,

Michelle Stoby