Children's Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
I HAVE been following keenly the debate on whether to reintroduce corporal punishment in schools as a way of instilling discipline among pupils.
Government banned corporal punishment in schools in 2003, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1989 and came into force in September, 1990. Zambia is party to the CRC and the African Charter on the rights and welfare of children that both denounce corporal punishment.National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQEZ) executive director Aaron Chansa recently called for the re-introduction of corporal punishment in public and private schools to restore discipline among learners. He said the lack of discipline in schools was making it difficult for teachers to effectively discharge their duties.
Meanwhile, the Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) has condemned any proposals to re-introduce the practice in schools because it is of the view that it will not only bad for pupils but for teachers as well.
Although ZANEC acknowledges that since the ban was enforced, there have been some challenges in disciplining erring pupils, but re-introducing it has more negatives than benefits because, teachers would be contradicting the provisions of the laws of Zambia particularly the Education Act of 2011 that prohibits it. ZANEC, a consortium of 68, education sector oriented non-governmental organisations (NGOs) believes that there is need for concerted efforts by parents and schools to invest and engage in strategies aimed at providing counselling and guidance for pupils as opposed to reintroducing corporal punishment.
Depending on which side of the argument one chooses to stand, it is important to note that there is a marked difference between discipline and punishment. The reason for punishment is to ensure that someone pays for the wrong that was committed while discipline aims to promote growth especially in young people. Often, the focus on punishment is anger while the attitude behind discipline is love.
Discipline teaches a child self-control, confidence, responsibility and being good, it also encourages modelling appropriate behaviour. While punishment is physical because it involves acts like spanking, hitting, or causing pain; it may be psychological because often it results in disapproval, isolation, or shaming of a child. Because punishment focuses on past misbehaviour, it offers little or nothing to help a child behave better in the future, it only builds up resentment for those in authority.
When punishment is used, the person who enforces the punishment becomes responsible for the child’s behaviour. A child who are raised in a way that stresses positive discipline will better understand their own behaviour, show independence, respect for themselves and others because it teaches a child how to relate positively with other people.
Because there are no perfect children, most people will recall how parents used to discipline them without necessarily resorting to corporal punishment and they turned out as responsible adults. Most of us can identify with a mother’s squint or glare if we were perceived to be misbehaving especially in public; a mother’s look was without physically touching us was enough to compel us to behave ‘properly’. Just thinking out loud!
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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