The idea of bringing back lashes in the classroom as a routine form of punishment by teachers is dead in the water.
The warning has come from Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Senator Harry Husbands, who is also a former teacher and head of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT).
Contributing to debate today in the Senate on the Appropriation Bill 2018 Husbands admitted that he “shared lashes” as a young primary school teacher but warned that times had changed, and the education system had to adjust also.
“We can’t in 2018 . . . be talking about bringing back corporal punishment in schools, when we should be moving to eliminate corporal punishment,” he insisted.
Recently, senior officials of the BUT and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union have called for the reintroduction of corporal punishment as part of the suite of options available to teachers to discipline children.
Presently, only principals and senior teachers are allowed to lawfully administer corporal punishment in schools.
“The reality is that some of these children experience such difficult lives that no corporal punishment that the school could mete out is going to mean anything to them in the real world,” the Government senator argued.
Addressing the issue of school violence, Husbands drew attention to a recent incident at St Leonard’s Boys’ School.
The senior education official said he was not prepared to tarnish the school’s good name over the behaviour of a few students.
In fact, Husbands said when he thought of the Richmond, St Michael institution, the first things that came to mind were the St Leonard’s 100 Boys’ Choir and the excellence of the school’s Spanish programme, not fighting and violence.
“We cannot allow three or four vagabonds” to erase the good work which students and teachers at St Leonard’s have been building over the years, he said.
Moreover, Husbands was emphatic that Government was not going to allow a “few criminals”
in schools who were being groomed by adults for a life of crime, to take control in the public school system.
“Issues involving children are to be dealt with in a certain way . . . . What is the benefit of putting on Whatsapp . . . two young girls fighting? . . . What is the benefit to you to take that and circulate?” he asked his colleagues in the Senate.
He expressed support for Minister of Education Ronald Jones’ view that court action should be taken against people who record such incidents and spread them.
“This is not to hide anything or to cover up things,” he said, but to protect school children from incidents that occur in their juvenile years following them into adulthood.
“Once you send that around it is there forever. They could turn up at a job interview five years from now and they never get the job and they don’t know why because somebody saw that ,” he pointed out.