Woman whose grandson's arm broken in school flogging wants action
Stabroek News
February 19, 2004

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A woman is awaiting a report on her eight-year-old grandson whose arm was broken during a flogging at school in November last year.

The woman, Doreen McPherson, yesterday told Stabroek News that the child had been beaten by a teacher with a piece of a broken chair.

McPherson said she was motivated to come forward after seeing six-year-old St Margaret Primary School student, Anwar Hussain Jr's flogging story on the television.

A distraught McPherson told this newspaper that even though the cast was removed from her grandson Joel Punch's hand, he is still in pain and it is affecting his performance at school since it was his right hand that was broken.

According to the woman, late last year her grandson had gone home crying out in pain and reported that he was beaten with a piece of a broken chair by a teacher because he had chased another child around the school to retrieve a pencil she had taken from him. The child attends the New Comenius Primary School in Anira Street, Queenstown.

She told this newspaper that after taking her grandson to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) she reported the matter to the headmistress of the school and was referred to the education ministry.

She said she spoke to a Ms Calder at the Welfare Department and was told that an investigation would have been launched.

The woman said that the only action taken was that her grandson was removed from the teacher's class and place in another classroom. The teacher, the woman said, was now on three months' maternity leave.

The woman yesterday lamented that she is forced to take care of the child and his brother and finance all the "running around" in relation to the incident. She noted that the children's father, who is a policeman, does not take care of them and she does not work and depends on her pension and assistance from relatives.

Meanwhile, almost two months after the parents of six-year-old Anwar Hussain, reported that their son was beaten in school on numerous occasions by his class teacher they are still awaiting a report from Ministry of Education on the issue.

Attempts by Stabroek News to speak to an official from the ministry have been futile as this newspaper is always told that the officials, including Minister Henry Jeffrey and Chief Education Officer (CEO), Ed Caesar, are in a meeting or away from the office.

Yesterday the child's father, Dr Anwar Hussain, said that several attempts by him to get feedback from the ministry, even by way of letter, have not yielded any information.

When Stabroek News had first reported Dr Hussain's son's issue, Headmistress of St Margaret's, Ellis Crandon, while refuting the claim made by Dr Hussain, stated that the ministry's Welfare Depart-ment was investigating the matter. When a subsequent telephone call was made to her, Ms Crandon told this newspaper she had nothing more to say on the issue and all queries should be directed to the ministry.

After several attempts, Stabroek News made contact with Co-ordinator of the Welfare Department Yvonne Arthur on Tuesday. When asked about the investigation, she said the matter was highly confidential and she could not discuss it on the telephone. Arthur then made an appointment with this newspaper for 10 am yesterday.

However, when the reporter arrived at her office she related through an assistant that the reporter should be redirected to Caesar's office, even though he was not there and employees could not say when he was expected.

Dr Hussain told Stabroek News that following his public disclosures of the flogging his child endured at the hands of his class teacher there have been other forms of victimisation meted out to his son. Some of these he has placed on a log and sent to various officials in the ministry none of whom, he said has responded.

According to him, between January 29 and February 4, the teacher had stopped marking his son's book and he reported it. He said his son was removed from his usual seat and placed to sit next to the teacher's desk, a position from which he could not view the blackboard properly.

Following complaints he was sent back to his original seat, but later removed and placed to sit next to the rubbish bin. Every time the door opens or closes it affects him and another child seated in the same bench with him.

A letter was sent to the Teaching Service Commis-sion, but the response was that the body will await a report from the investigation launched by the ministry and if not satisfied will conduct its own probe.

According to the doctor, his child, in the presence of his parents and the deputy headmistress of the school, gave a statement to Arthur and he signed.

The policy in Guyana is that teachers should not flog students. This must be done by the head of the school or under her supervision by a teacher designated by her.

At the last meeting on the Convention on the Rights of Children, the United Nations in dealing with Guyana, said among other things, that the country should expressly prohibit corporal punishment by law in the family, schools and other institutions.