Media release issued by NOPCAN, Belize City, Belize 2 March 2011
After a long and arduous advocacy campaign, NOPCAN, along with its allies and supporters and the children of Belize, will soon see the end to corporal punishment in schools. Education Minister, Hon. Patrick Faber has committed himself to sign a statutory instrument in May 2011 to bring into force the removal of corporal punishment in all Belize’s schools. This was the only piece of legislation put on hold when the Education Act was passed a year ago, on 19 February 2010. Corporal punishment is already banned in Pre-Schools and Day Care institutions.
The campaign to eliminate corporal punishment from the Education Act was in large part spearheaded over some two decades ago by Ms. Lorna McDougall, now retired Director of NOPCAN. She was relentless and totally committed to the removal of corporal punishment. Along with Ms. McDougall were advocates such as Mr. Denbigh Yorke, currently Director of NOPCAN, Ms. Hilary Hunt, a prominent child rights advocate who, in 2006, presented the NGO report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Ms. Carol Babb, current Deputy Chief Education Officer, and of course the National Committee for Families and Children who have worked as NOPCAN’s most powerful ally.
The significance of this historic milestone in advocating for children’s rights is that there is now legal protection for all our children from violence at the hands of adults in schools. To protect children from violence and the fear of violence are among the most formidable challenges of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And, while law reform is not in of itself the remedy, it does lay down the framework for children’s dignity to be respected.
It will be a wonderful day for our Belizean children and all adults who believe in non-violent methods of education and upbringing, as this reform revolutionizes the way we value and encourage children, by focussing on positive alternatives conducive to productive and quality learning.
NOPCAN urges the Ministry of Education and all members of the Belize National Teachers’ Union to diligently implement, strengthen and build on the wide-ranging recommendations made by the joint Task Force, to create a positive culture of learning and teaching for all our children. NOPCAN also urges the Ministry of Education to set up a robust monitoring and evaluation system, to include mechanisms for seeking and publicising children’s opinions on their experiences after corporal punishment is abolished. NOPCAN stands ready as always to offer its expertise and support to the Ministry of Education, Principals, teachers, children and parents to develop a true culture of non-violence in all our schools.
NOPCAN wishes to thank all its supporters, locally and internationally. We are deeply indebted to Save the Children Sweden, UNICEF, and Peter Newell of the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children. For further information please contact Mr Denbigh Yorke at NOPCAN tel (+501) 203-0441.