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School CP - April 2013

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New Era, Windhoek, 25 April 2013

Strong call to reintroduce corporal punishment

By Francis Xoagub

KEETMANSHOOP -- Delegates at the first-ever four-day education conference being hosted by the Karas Directorate of Education in Keetmanshoop that started on Monday, feel there is a need for the reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools.

They also appealed for the reintroduction of religious education as a compulsory subject to reinforce morals among school-going youth.

But their appeal will come to nothing because under Article 8 of the Constitution, on Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, it is stated: "No persons shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Under the theme 'Back to Basics. Stand Together, Work Together', the conference, attended by retired civil servants, teachers, traditional leaders and business, students, among others, stressed the 're-introduction of corporal punishment in a controlled manner.'

Delegates feel corporal punishment instills a sense of discipline. The conference ends today.

Bible studies as a subject was also done away with after independence because the Constitution classifies Namibia as a 'secular state.' This has led to a furtherance of social decay, they charged.

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The conference, organized by the Karas Education Directorate in collaboration with the governor's office, aims to find a solution to indiscipline by youths in schools and the community, which they say has damaged the reputation of the region to the extent that it now ranks among the worst performing regions in the country.

"Students know that you have very limited powers over them, so to speak, so they behave in a very disrespectful manner. What can you do? Send them to pick up some pieces of paper? And what else can be done?" said the Governor of the Karas Region Bernardus Swartbooi in his presentation titled 'Parental Involvement and Learner Participation in Education'.

Swartbooi offered some suggestions, one being the need for children to be given more help at home by their parents and that government comes up with alternative solutions to instill discipline in schools.

The responsibility of education has been relegated to teachers and government, but help for children at home is necessary if education is to be effective, he said. He also expressed concern about the growing number of teen-headed households in the country.

According to him, 11 percent of households in the Karas Region are headed by teenage parents who are not in a position to manage state grants because of their level of education.

He added that given the fact that child-headed households will rapidly increase, there is a need to expand responses in support of such households regarding household management skills and other support elements.

Speaker after speaker agreed that the introduction of bible studies would help prevent the growing 'social decay in Namibian society and strengthen religious morals'.

The conference will also among others discuss the region's vision statement, universal primary education, parents' involvement in education, feeding programmes for schools and funding.

According to the Director of Education in the Karas Region, Awebahe Johannes Hoeseb, the conference resolutions will direct the directorate on a plan of action to remedy critical issues, but stakeholders will also be "sensitised and re-energised" towards playing their part in education.

After moving up one position to 10th place on the national rankings in 2011, the Karas Region fell to position number 12 in last year's grades 10 and 12 exams.

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