Immediate action will be taken if corporal punishment rules breached
-Ministry warns school heads, teachers

By Gitanjali Singh
Stabroek News
June 20, 2001

Failure to adhere to regulations in relation to corporal punishment in schools, whether the child has been injured or not, may result in both the teacher and headteacher of the school being sent on immediate special leave.

While the leave with pay is being taken, arrangements are to be urgently put in place for an investigation.

The directive to Deputy Chief Education Officers, Assistant Chief Education Officers and Regional Education Officers was contained in a circular dated June 14 and issued by the Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Ed Caesar.

The circular which "takes immediate effect" stated that reports on incidents of corporal punishment outside of the framework of the regulations "must be investigated immediately and a report, with recommendations, submitted to the Chief Education Officer within 48 hours of the incident."

Stressing that the ministry will not condone the breaking of the laws, Caesar said in the circular that a record of the administering of any type of punishment must be made in the `punishment book'.

The correspondence noted that limited power still resides with headteachers in relation to corporal punishment but headteachers may supervise the administering of it by a senior teacher. Such punishment, the circular said, must be the last alternative.

According to the circular, if the matter reaches the police and the teacher is charged, a recommendation must be made to the Chief Education Officer for the interdiction of the teacher.

The circular comes in the wake of reports that headteachers and teachers were ignoring the tenets of the relevant circulars and "by inference, the Laws of Guyana that are relevant to corporal punishment."

Caesar noted that the ministry will soon be providing a forum for discussion of a thirty-point plan, which it is hoped could be regarded as "appropriate alternatives to corporal punishment."

The circular was also copied to Minister of Education, Dr Henry Jeffrey; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Hydar Ally; the Deputy Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Administration; the Deputy Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Finance; the Chief Planning Officer; the Principal Personnel Officer with responsibility for Policy and the General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers' Union.

The directive was issued as police conduct investigations into recent reports that two teachers in separate incidents had beaten two children causing them injuries. One involved a teacher at Lodge/Enterprise Primary who had beaten nine-year old Nickesha Garraway with a bamboo rod which fractured her left collar bone and the other occurred at Vryman's Erven where the child's elbow was fractured.

The teacher at Lodge/Enterprise was sent on special leave and a recommendation has been made to the Chief Education Officer who will forward it to the Teaching Service Commission for her to be interdicted from duty pending the outcome of investigations. (See other story on page 16) (Miranda La Rose)