Amidst the backballing and the self congratulatory messages about our Republican status, there is a horror story under-reported in the press. The Stabroek News on February 22 reports on the teacher who was warned by the Teaching Service Commission and sent back to teach young students after assaulting one of them.
One of the privileges of the middle classes who were beaten as children is to use euphemisms to under-state horrible things. So I am wondering, if any one of us were to beat/spank/lawfully administer corporal punishment to the members of the Teaching Service Commission or the ministers responsible for the well-being of our children, whether they would be kind enough to let us off with warnings and tell us to go back and not do it again. The laws on assault are clear and we would be charged.
It seems that children learning to ‘wine an guh down’ is more important than committing to not beating them in 21st century Guyana.
The irony of all of this is that in the early days of the Republic (and Dr Faith Harding had attested to this in one of her sessions on child care) the designers of the Republican education system for children did not include beating children. That legacy we hear lingers in the training at Cyril Potter College of Education, but it seems that goes out of the window as some teachers resort to their own childhood experiences of witnessing ‘good’ teachers abusing children.
Those who are concerned that Rahul Bhattacharya gave Guyana a bad name by showing the ‘negative’ side of the ‘underbelly of Guyana’ should think about these stories of teachers who are let off for abusing their power – let off by those who are supposedly decent and civilised and not from the underbelly.
We cannot as a country deal with violence, any kind of violence, unless we have zero tolerance for the beating of children. The teachers who are trying to change their classrooms need to be encouraged. They cannot live in fear of those who want to keep beating children.
The Teaching Service Commission and the Ministry of Education have done a disservice to the children of Guyana and those parents and teachers who are trying to change from the violent ways which they use to discipline their children.