Berbice schools may need alternatives to corporal punishment

Kaieteur News
March 31, 2007

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Some teachers on the Corentyne have been asked to address the issue of corporal punishment in schools, the possibility of counseling students who need it, and the non-completion of syllabuses.

These issues surfaced at a meeting at the Auchlyne Primary School on the Corentyne Coast when Regional Chairman Zulfikar Mustapha continues his community outreach.

Corporal punishment in schools, the Chairman said, is currently in the public domain and is engaging much discussion and debate.

Government is a signatory to the UN declarations on the rights of the child and thus is being pressured to pass laws banning corporal punishment, he said

“Whatever the outcome of the debate, it seems that we may have to start looking at alternative forms of punishment.”

The Regional Chairman said that children are products of the society. Some, he said, may come from troubled situations thus creating all sorts of undesirable behaviour and actions. Emphasis should therefore be placed on counseling in schools.

The counseling departments in schools, where they exist, must play a role in understanding and analysing troubled children with a view to assisting them. “We must tap into these expertise and use it to the benefit of our children,” Mustapha said.

The situation in some schools did not escape notice. “We continue to be bombarded with complaints by parents that teachers in some schools are not completing their syllabuses,” said the Chairman.

Teachers are present in school, but they remain in the staff rooms for some reason or the other, he added.

This, he said, is undesirable and it places the children at a disadvantage when writing their examinations. He ordered head teachers to play a vital role in ensuring that teachers are where they supposed to be and that syllabuses are completed.

He said the government is seeking to ensure literacy and numeracy.

He said that more than 40 per cent of students entering secondary schools do not complete at the level they should. This matter should be dealt with quickly and should engage the attention of all head teachers and education officials, he added.

The Region Six Education budget for 2007 is approximately $1.2B of which salaries account for 80 per cent of the total. The remainder goes to pay for Security Services, $84M; Sweeper Cleaners, $29M; Utilities, $38M, Maintenance of Buildings, $52M and Office Supplies, $21M.

The Capital Budget of $33M will be going towards projects such as the additional building at the Port Mourant Community High School, extension of the Skeldon Primary School and a dormitory at Orealla.

The Chairman said that because large sums of money are being spent on Education in the Region, he expects value for the money and said that this should reflect the general improvement of the quality and quantity of education delivery in the Region,

“Our statistics do not speak too well of our present situation since the results we get at both the SSEE and CXC exams leave a lot to be desired.”