No teacher has a right to enter a classroom with a whip or to beat a student in the classroom

Dear Editor,

I refer to the report, `Top teacher wants corporal punishment reintroduced,’ (Kaieteur News, July 13, 2010).  I wish to reassure CPCE’s 2010 best graduating student Mr Hamant France that corporal punishment has not been banned from schools, so there is no need to call for it to be “reintroduced”.

Corporal punishment in schools is still in the laws of Guyana, Education Act, Regulation 94. This regulation became law in 1943 and was reaffirmed in 1973; however, over the years it has been breached far more frequently than observed. Few students can remember whether or not the regulation was observed when they were punished. In fact, most teachers in the past, and perhaps all students, were totally unaware (perhaps willfully kept unaware) of the laws on school corporal punishment. Even today’s teachers seem to be thoroughly misinformed about those laws.

Following a spate of injuries resulting from the misapplication of corporal punishment, the Ministry of Education has had to strongly remind teachers of the necessity of obeying the laws of Guyana on administering corporal punishment.

Entries and details must be made in the punishment book. Signatures and dates have to be appended.

Responsibility has to be borne by those administering the punishment. This is not an onerous burden; it is what the law requires and has required since 1943! No teacher has a right to enter a classroom with a whip or to beat a student in the classroom, not even the head teacher. The place for authorized corporal punishment is the head teacher’s office, behind closed doors out of eyeshot and ear-sound, not on the school stage.

When the corporal punishment regulations are breached, as they sometimes inevitably are, students are being punished illegally.

Those who boast that teachers regularly gave them licks and good came out of it clearly do not understand that illegal acts were perpetrated upon them. To this day, many adults, who were schooled under the whip since the 1940s can still condone illegal acts and other formal/informal injustices that have existed and still exist in our society.

Injustices and trauma experienced during childhood are injustices and trauma re-enacted during adulthood.

I would prefer that corporal punishment be banned altogether in schools so as to remove any loophole in its use; however, due to strong Governmental and Opposition resistance, a ban is not possible at this time, so  I will abide by the present regulation and remind teachers to go and do likewise.

I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr France and to wish him success in all his future endeavours and whenever he reaches a top, don’t stop, but go on a bit more. There’s always another top to attain.

Meanwhile, yet another country  has attained a full ban on all forms of corporal punishment. Liechtenstein, in Western Europe, has become the 26th nation to achieve full abolition of corporal punishment of children in all settings. (http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/pages/frame.html, May 2010) Corporal  punishment of children in schools has been abolished in 109 countries.

Yours faithfully,
Michael Xiu Quan
Balgobind-Hackett

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