PARENTS of school-going children have mixed feelings on effecting corporal punishment at schools with some saying it must be reinstated while others say it was not necessary as children should simply be taught about good values in life.
Their comments come in the wake of a recent pronouncement in Parliament by Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Paul Mavima that corporal punishment was outlawed in terms of Zimbabwe’s new Constitution.
While some parents said children needed to be disciplined to keep them from becoming “little rascals”, others said they actually attended schools that did not mete out corporal punishment but were successful in society and well behaved. A parent who contributed to the online NewsDay discussion and identified himself as Mhofu wrote: “Our kids need to be disciplined at school to keep them from being little rascals. I for one hate these so called changes to our laws.”
However, a former Watershed College student said about corporal punishment: “I was at Watershed College from 2006 to 2011 and during that period I never got a single beating at school. We had a tight schedule and a timetable that made us all so occupied that we even had no time for back chatting at teachers or coaches or whoever it was. The point is that if the schools are to offer high class discipline principles, students should be told the value of life, by doing small things like homework. Focus should be on what the kid should know and understand.”
Educationist and founder of Zimbabwe Distance Education College Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who is also Zanu PF secretary for education, yesterday told NewsDay that corporal punishment at schools was an archaic method of punishment and should be done away with.
Ndlovu said what was needed in order to deal with wayward behaviour at schools was to have schools employ trained psychologists and counsellors to deal with ill-behaved kids.
“The problem is that corporal punishment might be viewed as violating children’s rights, for example, beating a girl child on the buttocks might be viewed as wrong,” Ndlovu said.
“The person who metes out that corporal punishment might not be in the right state of mind to do so and it might end up in abuse of children. The solution is that each school should have a psychologist and counsellor to deal with bad behaving students.”
He said Zimbabwe should move with the times, adding disciplining school children was not necessarily spanking, but could be verbal counselling and even stern warnings were appropriate.