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School CP - January 2005

Corpun file 15083

Fiji Times, Suva, 23 January 2005

Teachers want the lash back

THE Fijian Teachers Association has supported a call by Education Ministry acting chief executive Filimoni Jitoko to reintroduce corporal punishment in schools.

Association president Tevita Koroi said corporal punishment was only used when a student committed an offence.

Mr Koroi said it was done to deter students from becoming repeat offenders.

"In some societies belting someone is seen as a form of discipline and it should be the same in our society," he said.

"It is something we value in our society because it teaches our children discipline and deters them from wrongdoing."

Mr Koroi said international laws labelled corporal punishment a form of torture and against the rights of a child. He said Fiji should not hide behind these laws because when society broke down, those who created the laws do not come down to look into our problems.

But Education Minister Ro Teimumu Kepa said the ministry's stand was clear and it would not condone any form of corporal punishment.

She said corporal punishment was seen as the use of the strap or a stick.

"Teachers have their own methods of instilling discipline and this is at their discretion," Ro Teimumu said.

Mr Jitoko said sparing the rod at home and in schools did not help the younger generation.

Instead, it simply made many of them victims of crime, he said.

Corporal punishment in schools was banned after a High Court judgment ruling against it.

Public Service Commission deputy director Usaia Waqatairewa said that corporal punishment should never be seen as a way of instilling discipline in children.

The 1997 Constitution states "every person has the right to freedom from torture of any kind, whether physical, mental or emotional and from cruel and degrading or disproportionately severe treatment or punishment".

Mr Waqatairewa said in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Fiji was a signatory, consolidated the way parents should ensure the development of their children.

He said under the Juvenile Act parents could be held responsible for the acts of their children.

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