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School CP - May 2006

Corpun file 17647

Daily News, Dar es Salaam, 1 May 2006

Minister defends caning in schools

By Daily News Reporter in Dodoma


CANING of stubborn students in primary and secondary schools is mandatory and is supported by law, the Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Mrs Margaret Sitta, said here at the climax of celebrations to mark the 'Education for All Week'.

The minister, however, said caning of students should not be carried out arbitrarily or haphazardly. She told a gathering of students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders in the education sector that only headteachers are allowed to cane stubborn students.

Mrs Sitta explained that the headteacher has the mandate to pass the baton to any other teacher in his or her school. Ms Sitta was responding to a bitter complaint against caning by a pupil from Mhalala Primary School in Manyoni District, Pendo David.

Reading a message on behalf of other pupils, Pendo said corporal punishment was so harsh that it terrified pupils some of whom decided to abscond. "Some pupils hate going to school because they fear corporal punishment," she said. She wanted it abolished.

The pupil also complained that some teachers hardly did their work. She said the problem is so acute that many subjects go untaught all-year-round because of low morale on the part of the teachers or outright indiscipline. She said this causes massive failures.


Corpun file 17646

Daily News, Dar es Salaam, 1 May 2006


Spare the rod ...

TROUBLESOME school-goers should take note of the statement by the Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Mrs Margaret Sitta, in Dodoma yesterday that corporal punishment is legal.

In a message read to the minister at the climax of the Education for All Week, students spoke against spanking, calling for abolition of this type of punishment.

But, as Mrs Sitta has pointed out, using the rod against undisciplined children remains perfectly legal, only that the mandate to wield the cane is confined to headteachers or those assigned by them.

The application of corporal punishment in schools has been the subject of a protracted debate. Those opposing the practice associate it with cruelty and the whole question of human rights.

There are, indeed, cases where children were severely beaten up to the point of losing consciousness or suffering bodily harm. That is an unfortunate abuse of the rod.

Yet the misuse of corporal punishment, which is condemnable, should not be an excuse to ban it in a hurry. We think the mere provision for spanking is deterrent.

What matters is who applies the punishment and how, which has been taken care of by trusting it to headteachers. It is also important to specify the number of strokes that can be given to a student.

The aim should always be to correct the conduct of students. Punishment meted out for the sake of it does not benefit the recipient and is, therefore, negative.

In the final analysis, the question is not whether schools should apply corporal punishment or other types of punishment for that matter but how best to do that. Punishment for wrongdoing is simply logical.

Schools cannot afford to spare the rod and spoil our children. They should, however, use the rod sparingly.

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