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School CP - June 2004

Corpun file 13660

Trinidad Express, Port of Spain, 17 June 2004

'Bring back the whip'

By darren bahaw

A REPORT to combat violence and indiscipline in the nation's schools has recommended the reintroduction of corporal punishment as one of the immediate measures to be implemented by the Ministry of Education.

Education Minister Hazel Manning, in releasing the report yesterday at the Hilton Trinidad, said Prof Ramesh Deosaran, author of the report, was commissioned to research the growing trend of indiscipline in schools and come up with the necessary solutions.

Manning said the rush by the previous administration to provide secondary school places for all students in 2000 had contributed significantly to the current crisis in which pupils were entering a system inadequately prepared and the teachers were not trained to attend to their needs.

She added that poor leadership in the management of some schools, teacher absenteeism, along with unpunctuality resulting in unsupervised students for long periods contributed to the problem.

Manning also saw the scenario in which social and domestic issues overflow from the home into the classroom, poor physical school environment, including the lack of proper equipment and supplies and inadequate school security as parts of the problem.

The Deosaran report recommended that corporal punishment, governed by strict controls and conditions, "be put in place for its use in schools for a three-year period, during which time a close study will be made of its efficacy and consequences for both teachers and students".

"We cannot be guided purely by foreign research, nor by ungrounded philosophy, not when the teachers, parents and even students believe that at least the threat, if not the actual use, of corporal punishment is a deterrent to many students.

"Of course, corporal punishment should not be seen as the only method of student control; but as part, in fact an extreme and rarely used part, of achieving classroom management and student discipline," the report stated.

Deosaran conceded that the "policy and practice of corporal punishment in schools has been and still is quite bothersome. We note that the teachers and parents we consulted, almost unanimously (i.e., except two out of 145), supported the practice of corporal punishment in schools, but with 'some controls'."

Manning said that the Ministry "will continue to implement the recommendations of the report" and the benchmarks provided will allow the Ministry to scientifically monitor the effectiveness of the strategies. She pleaded with the media to support the initiative.

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