Corporal punishment in schools to be abolished in September: Faber

The Ministry of Education is moving forward with plans to eliminate corporal punishment in schools as of September 2011.

At a press conference on Friday, January 14, Education Minister Patrick Faber said: “I have decided that during Education Week this year, which is the first week in May, that I will sign a statutory instrument that, effective for the new school year, will lift the suspension of sections 50.2 and 51.4 [of the Education and Training Act] that prohibit corporal punishment.”

Although the law in question had come into force in February 2010, the Government had decided to suspend the provision to allow for a task force on alternative student discipline approaches to be put together and for its recommendations to be tabled.

“We are happy to report that having received that report with recommendations from the task force, we have agreed on a way forward,” Faber added.

He thanked the task force, and particularly its co-chairs Dativa Martinez and Marie Zabaneh, for the work it has done.

Minister Faber said that he is pleased with two core concepts highlighted by the task force: one is the need for “a whole school approach” in achieving discipline in school, and the other is that discipline should be “an educative process” with the goal being to ensure that the student should become self-disciplined.

The task force recommendations, he said, can be grouped into 5 broad areas: (1) training in effective classroom management and instruction, (2) guidance in and development of whole school policies and approaches, (3) sharing and dissemination of existing materials and programs, (4) student counseling and care, (5) conflict resolution and restorative justice, (6) parenting education, and (7) media campaigns.

The Ministry of Education will continue with annual August workshops in effective classroom management, as well as disseminating existing information on programs and approaches to achieving discipline in schools.

Faber also said that over the next year, the government will work towards formulating a plan for a center for student counseling and care.

President of the Belize National Teachers’ Union told Amandala, in response to the Minister’s announcement that, “We cannot abolish corporal punishment if they do not have a mechanism in place. We know that they have [a mechanism], but we want to see it implemented.