Report out on St Margaret's beatings complaint
Stabroek News
March 5, 2004

Related Links: Articles on corporal punishment
Letters Menu Archival Menu

The report of the Ministry of Education's investigation into the complaint of beatings at St Margaret's Primary School is out, and the father of the pupil, Dr Anwar Hussain has been notified of this.

Chief Education Officer Ed Caesar made this disclosure at a press briefing yesterday. The briefing was held primarily for the Regional Education Officers of Regions One and Seven to inform the public of their programmes and activities.

But Caesar took the opportunity to talk about the matter stating that upon learning of the situation he had taken immediate action. He said the ministry took care to see the investigation was properly done. Officers were sent back to the school three or four times to complete the report because he said he was not satisfied with every aspect of it.

He apologised to Dr Hussain for not acknowledging the receipt of his correspondence enquiring about the status of the probe but added that an investigation had been done and action taken. He said Dr Hussain had been written to and should now have in his hands a copy of the findings of the investigation.

He said that the Teaching Service Commission has been apprised of the results of the probe and it is up to it to follow up on the issue.

Addressing the larger issue of corporal punishment, Caesar said that under the established rules only a senior teacher or a teacher authorised by a senior teacher could administer corporal punishment.

In the absence of changes to the law, Caesar said a teacher could apply the Manual for Maintenance of Order and Discipline in Schools. The manual has been in circulation since 2002, he added.

Caesar continued by saying at the ministry level "we are not supportive of corporal punishment but once a co-operative relationship is developed be-tween parents and the schools there would be no need for corporal punishment."

People must ensure that an environment conducive to learning is created. He said parents must ensure their children are in a position to learn when sending them to school. He expressed the hope that parents were aware of the manual and the advice that it has to offer.

On a personal level he thought that a child must not be hit and parents should set a positive example. Also they need to spend more time with children to let them know why they should not behave in a certain manner.

He noted that the ministry has looked at various alternatives to make corporal punishment a thing of the past. Some of these are talking with children, setting tasks and ensuring that they understand. Participatory management, he said, was now very relevant to get students involved in the making of rules for the school.

With regard to getting more parents involved, Caesar noted that the School Board Secretariat has been looking at the setting up of sub-regional, regional and national parent teachers associations (PTA).

They have also been looking at ways to have more effective and functioning PTAs. The purpose being that PTAs will be able to give assistance to each other with regard to problems facing them.

Meanwhile Region One (Barima-Waini) Head of Department Oswald Valenzuela said that the department is promoting education under the theme "Quality Education, Better life for All". He stated also that his department made an effort to visit schools in the sub-regions of Mabaruma, Moruca and Maliki on a monthly basis.

The region has 58 schools that are served by 384 trained and untrained teachers. He said also that from late last month an in-house training programme for teachers was launched.

Urline Crandon Regional Education Officer of Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) said that there are 5510 children attending school in her region who are instructed by 146 trained teachers and 129 untrained teachers. She said that the Waramadong Secondary School in the Upper Mazaruni would be offering subjects at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) in May for the first time. Ninety-three students will sit the examination.

Crandon said rehabilitation work under the Secondary Schools Reform Project has been completed at the Bartica Secondary School. Also Quebanang has a new school constructed by the residents of that area.

She said five teachers have successfully completed reading for the Degree in Education at the University of Guyana while 37 trainees are on the Guyana Basic Teacher Training (GBETT) Programme and eleven were admitted to the CPCE at the beginning of the year.