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School CP - January 2002

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Associated Press, 9 January 2002

Serbian government proposes ban on corporal punishment in schools

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia: Seeking to upgrade human rights to universally accepted standards, the government in Yugoslavia's dominant republic has proposed a law banning corporal punishment in schools, the state Tanjug news agency reported Wednesday.

The draft law would ban all primary and secondary school employees "from physically punishing and insulting the pupils."

Parliamentarians will consider the draft during their next session, perhaps as early as later this month. The law is expected to eventually be passed but could be stalled by the opposition.

The government is also introducing a special committee within the ministry of education that is to oversee whether schools abide by the new law, as well as a parents council program.

The committee would dispatch inspectors and advisers to schools for checkups while the parents council would have a say in matters such as school conditions.

Since ousting former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his autocratic regime, the new, democratic government has promised sweeping reforms in all walks of life, including education.

Serbia -- the larger of the two Yugoslav republics -- has a strong patriarchal society which occasionally condones parents striking disobedient children or teachers slapping exasperating pupils.

In rural areas, families still live by the old Serbian adage: "The rod has come out of heaven" that advocates disciplining youngsters with sticks or straps.

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