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School CP - January 2015

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Bulawayo Chronicle, 30 January 2015

Teachers demand right to cane pupils

By Raymond Majongwe
Harare Bureau


Teachers have written to President Mugabe seeking the re-introduction of corporal punishment in schools saying its outright removal affects the moulding of pupils into good citizens and attainment of higher pass rates.

Zimbabwe Amendment (Number 20) Act of 2013 outlaws torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of juveniles.

This has resulted in an increase in cases of indiscipline.

High Court Judge Justice Esther Muremba, also ruled that the caning of juvenile offenders was unconstitutional and had no place in the country's statutes because it was inhuman and degrading.

She was upholding the conviction of a 15-year-old boy recently who had been sentenced to three strokes with a rattan cane by a magistrate, but appealed the sentence at the High Court.

In a letter dated January 26, 2014 to President Mugabe, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general Raymond Majongwe, said while teachers did not support the "battering" of pupils, complete removal of corporal punishment was turning schools into "jungles with no authority."

The move has the backing of all teachers unions in Zimbabwe.

As such, the unions said more consultations were needed to come up with "progressive disciplinary methods" to improve discipline and pass rates.

"We're receiving reports from our members in schools that cases of indiscipline are on the rise," reads the letter.

"Outright removal of corporal punishment could easily worsen the situation. We've received many school cases of bullying, rape, sexual escapades, alcohol and drug abuse, truancy, fights, late coming to school, bunking lessons, lack of respect for teachers and many more attitudes which militate against moulding of a good citizenry and attaining higher pass rates. We're convinced the outright removal of corporal punishment from our schools will definitely turn our schools into jungles with no master nor authority."

The Nziramasanga Commission Report, the letter said, also called for wider consultations on corporal punishment.

"We don't support the battering of learners but we're saying keeping corporal punishment hanging in schools, at times without even applying it, has helped to maintain some measure of discipline," reads the letter.

"Even the Holy Bible in Proverbs 13 verse 24 justifies the need to use corporal punishment to instil discipline in our children. In light of the above, we kindly request your good office to urgently instruct the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to engage all key stakeholders on this matter and get their views to save our education."

Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu, said while the new Constitution banned the caning of juveniles, there still had to be ways of disciplining children.

"We don't have extreme cases of indiscipline compared to South Africa and many Western countries but there're still dangerous cases in our schools and that's where we should adopt disciplinary methods, that of course respect human dignity," he said.

"Corrective behaviour is needed when a child goes astray and we need more consultations to come up with progressive methods. We agree that corporal punishment is an indirect way of justifying and encouraging social violence but alternative disciplinary measures have to be there."

Teachers Union of Zimbabwe chief executive Manuel Nyawo, said there should be a provision for minimum force in schools and the government should recommend other forms of punishment to reprimand unacceptable behaviour.

"If no such alternative measures are put in place, then the school becomes a breeding ground for all forms of behaviour that will make learning difficult for the educators," he said.

"Teachers deserve their professional integrity and it's only through maintaining certain standards of behaviour that a school becomes a conducive learning environment."

Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union president Martin Chaburumunda, said by banning the act, the government was adopting Western practices, which would be detrimental to the country's education system.

"They say spare a rod and spoil the child and totally removing it (corporal punishment) means we don't have great love for the future of our children," Chaburumunda said.

"Indiscipline has destroyed the education system of countries such as South Africa and all we're calling for is a re-look into the issue."

He said the ban would have been well received if the country had many reformatory institutions.

© 2013 The Chronicle.

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