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School CP - July 2005

Corpun file 16320

Sunday Sun, Bridgetown, 31 July 2005

Don't flog!

By Dwayne Greenidge

THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION has accepted liability and is now expected to pay damages because a primary school teacher caused injuries to a child's buttocks while flogging him.

Reliable sources told the SUNDAY SUN recently that Government officials and the child's parents had been involved in compensation talks to avoid a potentially costly legal battle.

Reports also indicated that the child's parents were very peeved because the actions of the teacher "occasioned actual bodily harm" to the pupil last term. Medical records were provided to substantiate the child's injuries.

This situation brought swift reaction from the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), which reportedly sent a memo to all primary and secondary schools teachers advising them not to inflict corporal punishment on their charges.

The advice, it reported, was in keeping with the Education Act which made it clear flogging in the school system could only be administered by the principal or a senior teacher.

Last January, Minister of Education Reginald Farley expressed concern about the lack of knowledge of the Education Act by some teachers and explained that steps would be taken to correct this.

"I'm going to ensure that we do a reprinting of the act and distribute it, because the act is not there as a tool to govern them in a negative sense. It sets a broad framework for how education is administered," he said then.

Reliable sources also told the SUNDAY SUN the ministry had mandated all schools to keep a punishment book at the secondary level. Each time a student was disciplined, it had to be recorded.

President of the National Council of Parent-Teacher Association Alvin "Phil" Perry supported the position of teachers being barred from flogging children.

"I have been a teacher for many years and I have never flogged a child; and they learn," he said.

Perry added that while flogging had served its purpose in the past, it was now being increasingly perceived as counter-productive.

Chief Education Officer Wendy Griffith-Watson confirmed that teachers were not permitted to whip children and stressed that such punishment could be carried out only by a principal or senior teacher.

"There have been cases where the Ministry [of Education] has had to pay out money," she said.

BUT president Karen Best is out of the island and could not be reached for comment.

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