Arm-breaking incident at school
Teaching service body to do own probe By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
March 18, 2004

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The Teaching Service Commission (TSC) has decided to launch an independent investigation into the incident where an eight-year-old pupil of the New Comenius Primary School was reportedly beaten with a part of a broken chair and had his arm broken as a result.

Contacted yesterday, Chairman of the TSC, Richard Mangar, said the commission was aware of the issue and was concerned with the length of time the Ministry of Education was taking to investigate the matter.

Mangar said the TSC empathises with the child's grandmother, Doreen McPherson, who said she has not heard anything from the ministry in relation to the matter.

Several other attempts by Stabroek News to get a comment on the issue from the ministry failed, resulting in the TSC being contacted.

The child's grandmother has been in constant contact with this newspaper on the issue, stating she does not know where else to turn.

Eight-year-old Joel Punch reportedly had his arm broken last November by his class teacher when he chased one of his schoolmates around the schoolyard after she had taken his pencil.

The child's grandmother was forced to stand the expense for medical treatment for the child and a report was made to the ministry. The grandmother was told the ministry would have the matter investigated. The teacher involved is now on maternity leave and although the cast is off the child's arm, his grandmother said he still has difficultly using it.

Mangar told Stabroek News yesterday that the TSC is awaiting a report from Chief Education Officer (CEO) Ed Caesar following which an investigation will be launched.

He said at the TSC Disciplinary Committee meeting on Monday the matter was discussed and members expressed alarm at the report made by the grandmother.

He said the normal procedure is that they await a report from the CEO, which would have recommended what course of disciplinary action should be taken, before the TSC acts.

However, because of the lengthy delay in the matter the TSC has decided that it will launch its own investigation and will visit the school next week.

According to Mangar, when the TSC's board meeting convenes today, Caesar is expected to be present, since he is a commissioner on the board.

Mangar said the undue delay in the investigation will be raised and an explanation will be required from the CEO. "But we are concerned about the matter, we have been following your report and we have been officially informed," the chairman said.

He said the TSC is open to have complaints about corporal punishment lodged at its office and it will investigate.

"The TSC is concerned about the alleged corporal punishment being handed out indiscriminately at certain schools," he said.

Contacted yesterday, McPherson told Stabroek News she has not heard anything from the ministry even though she reported the matter to the media.

"Child I don't know what else to do. This thing is really making me sick. Deh ent gat no time fuh me and it is raising me pressure."

Right now I sick of it and I just deh home lying down. I don't know what else to do. Imagine nothing, nothing dem ent telling me of this matter," the grandmother said.

She informed this newspaper that she would be visiting the United Nations' office in Brickdam to report the matter.

Guyana is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. At the 35th session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which was held in January in Geneva, it was recommended (among other things) that Guyana should expressly prohibit corporal punishment by law in the family, schools and other institutions.