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School CP - September 2005

Corpun file 17337

Swazi Observer, Mbabane, 15 September 2005

Mixed feelings over corporal punishment

By Humphrey Dlamini

IN response to the launch of The Save the Children booklet on the rights of children in the face of corporal punishment, the Swazi children have come out to speak their minds about the use of the cane.

The launch of the book was attended by a number of people including legal practitioners and teachers. One of the lawyers from the Republic of South Africa noted that the Kingdom had an obligation to end corporal punishment as it signed the convention on the rights of children in 1995.

The Swazi Observer went into the streets to find out how the children feel about the removal of corporal punishment. As it is known that Swazi children grow up under a culture where corporal punishment is tolerated, the children we spoke to have mixed feelings about ending this practice.

Bambanani Ngwenya, 17 year-old pupil of Saim Christian High School in Mbabane, says whipping a child has different psychological effects upon the child. He says beating is only done to encourage the children to learn when they feel lazy. As a result the beating must continue. He believes caning a child only has a negative effect if a child is beaten for nothing.

Sandile Dlamini, a 16-year old who also attends the same school says corporal punishment should not be removed because children might lose respect for adults.

Simone Dube, a 16-year-old pupil of SOS in Mbabane says corporal punishment only makes children to behave. She maintains that parents and teachers deserve to be respected when disciplining their children.

Xolile Ngema (16) "beating up children does not help anyone. School children even begin to fear going to school".

Zanele Mthembu (16) "Children who do not get punishment become lazy to do their school work. Corporal punishment makes pupils not to forget their responsibilities".

Zweli Dlamini (8) of SAGM in Mbabane says Swazi children grow up disciplined because they are beaten if they misbehave. He said this encourages them to learn and do their school work.

Sixteen-year old Nomsa Skhondze of KaSchiele in Mbabane says children should be disciplined if they do something wrong.

She says the bad thing is that at times children are beaten up for nothing, which makes them repeat the same mistakes because they feel that it does not make a difference if they behave themselves or not.

Sindi Dlamini says children should be beaten with sticks only and not beaten with any kind of weapon that might cause them permanent injuries. She says if children are not beaten they lose respect for their parents and teachers.

Corpun file 17336

Swazi Observer, Mbabane, 16 September 2005

'Corporal punishment legal'

By Thabile Masuku

THE education system in Swaziland entertains corporal punishment, but teachers make the situation worse by deliberately breaking the Education Rules.

Corporal punishment at school is regulated by the Education Act of 1982 read together with the Education Rules of 1977.

Section 10 (1) provides that "the general discipline in a school shall be vested in the headmaster.....who may, however, seek the advice of his deputy or other members of staff".

"The effect of this provision is that while the authority to administer discipline in the school ordinarily vests in the headmaster, any teacher may discipline a pupil if he is so delegated by the headmaster," said Maxine Langwenya, a lecturer of law at the University of Swaziland.

She added that subsection (10) states that the headmaster may impose corporal punishment on a pupil.

"It is submitted that although not expressly stated in this subsection, the headmaster may also delegate his powers to administer corporal punishment on any pupil to any member of his staff. The Director (Education) is also empowered to administer corporal punishment on an offending pupil," said Langwenya.

The most pertinent provision for corporal punishment is section 11 of the Education Rules, 1977. The section provides as follows:

1) Corporal punishment shall be administered to boys by the headmaster or by a member of the staff specifically so authorised by such headmaster or by a house master for offences committed within a boarding establishment.

2) Corporal punishment shall be administered to girls only by a female teacher in the presence of a head teacher.

3) Corporal punishment shall not be given in public.

4) No cane or stick exceeding 0.83metres (two and a half feet) in length, and 1.5 centimetres (half an inch) in diameter, shall be used for the infliction of corporal punishment.

5) All corporal punishment shall be administered on the buttocks and not on other parts of the body.

6) Headmasters and House masters shall ensure that pupils are in a physically fit condition to receive corporal punishment before resorting thereto.

7) Punishment shall not exceed four strokes in the case of boys and girls under 16 years of age and six strokes in the case of boys and girls 16 years of age and over.

8) Every instance of corporal punishment shall be recorded forthwith in a punishment book, the entry specifying the name of the pupil, the date and nature of offence and the number of strokes administered.

Langwenya said it was worth noting that while the statute law permitting corporal punishment exists, it was seldom followed to the letter.

"The newspapers are replete with reports of teachers who administer such punishment on any part of a pupil’s body like the face, head and hands.

"Compounding the issue is the fact that pupils are never examined to ensure that they are physically fit to be subjected to corporal punishment in schools, not that the headmasters and house masters are experts in this regard," Langwenya said.

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