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Samoa Observer, Apia, 29 July 2017

Govt. considers corporal punishment

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene

The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, has revealed that the government could legislate corporal punishment in a bid to address inter-school fights.

In revealing the plan, Minister Loau told the Sunday Samoan that he accepts it is an extreme step but he said nothing has been finalised.

What is certain though is the urgent need to address the issue of fights among students of different schools.

"As you know, back in the days when corporal punishment was allowed, things were very different," he said.

"Even in the Bible, there are multiple verses that talk about corporal punishment and how a child should be disciplined."

Loau said that something about "the cane" made a difference with a lot of leaders who grew up under the system.

"It was painful but look at most of them now. They are very successful but that was due to the discipline."

Loau said the government is alarmed by the ongoing fighting in public places -- as well as other problems.

"We are looking at ways that we can solve the problem because we cannot leave the problem like this otherwise it will get bigger and then we won't be able to solve it."

The Minister confirmed that the Office of the Attorney General and the relevant government bodies have been informed and they are looking at it.

It's not an easy matter, he added.

"We also have to look on the other side because we have already signed international conventions which are against it.

"So we have asked the Attorney General's Office to look into the matter and provide us with an opinion on whether the government should go ahead or not."

Personally, the Minister said he sees corporal as part of the solution. Discipline and tough Samoan love has always worked and he does not see why it shouldn't work again.

"As the Minister of Education, we have to find ways to solve this problem," he said. "The A.G's Office is also looking at the teachers' side and the effect on them as well as the students."

Asked if he prescribes [sic] to some thoughts that the push for child's rights is responsible for a lot of these problems, he said no.

"I don't think it's because of that because everyone has a right and that goes for the children as well," he said.

"But I believe charity begins at home. If your parents bring you up well, that sets you up for what's to follow.

"The most important part is the parents have to do their part because as we always hear the parents are the first teachers of any child.

"They have to play their part and then the teacher will do their part when the child arrives at school."

© Samoa Observer 2016

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