The Ministry of Education has developed a Green Paper on Safe School Policy, which will, among other things, abolish the use of corporal punishment in all schools.
The policy is to be submitted to Cabinet soon and tabled in Parliament by next month, said Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, at Wednesday’s (Jan. 19) session of the House of Representatives.
He noted that from a public policy perspective, to be successful, the reform must not only make provision for the prohibition of corporal punishment, but also for the introduction of alternative disciplinary practices.
He said that the abolition of corporal punishment must also be seen within a wider, conceptual framework, which entails the removal of all forms of violence against children in schools, including verbal, mental and emotional abuse, which can be as damaging to a child’s wellbeing as a physical blow.
Minister Holness comments follow reports in the media that a boy was blinded in one eye after the belt his teacher was using to punish another child caught him in the eye.
According to the Education Minister, the use of “moderate and reasonable corporal punishment as a means of disciplinary sanction is legal in all schools in Jamaica except early childhood institutions.
He noted however, that the Government is seeking to change the laws to abolish its use at all level of the education system.
He said that while the Ministry now has no power to discipline or dismiss teachers, who fail to comply with the directive against the use of corporal punishment that authority rested with the school boards and “is subject to the vagaries of the individual views of the board members and school staff.”
The Safe School Policy adopts a multi-layered approach to safe schools and is comprised of prevention, intervention, and intense intervention and crisis management strategies.
CONTACT: LATONYA LINTON