Alternatives for disciplining pupils in the classroom-GES outlines
The Ghana Education Service (GES), in 2017 officially banned all forms of corporal punishment meted out to children in schools in Ghana as part of efforts aimed at promoting a safer and more protective learning environment for children.
The introduction of toolkit by The Guidance and Counseling Unit offers options for the effective application of positive discipline for different forms of misbehaviour and proposes suitable proactive or reactive measures for addressing them, instead of the traditional approach, which is caning. The toolkit has classified misbehaviour into various levels.
The first thing every teacher must institute to ensure discipline is the setting of classroom rules posted on notice boards as a visual reminder of expected behaviours from the students
List of measures approved by GES to ensure discipline in schools:
- Writing Lines
The child is given a sentence to write several times over. The sentence should positively reinforce that child’s need and ability to adhere to the recommended forms of behaviour. Draft the sentence the student would have to write and give him/her a deadline for submission of the lines.
This involves students being asked to undertake some form of community service, such as picking litters or cleaning some particular area of the school; but certainly not the toilets. Picking litters, arranging seats in the classrooms and other tasks considered as more sanitation-friendly are preferred to the ones that could expose them to sicknesses. It is very important for a teacher to ensure that the child carries out the sanction.
- Designated Seating Position
This involves seating the student right in front of or beside the teacher in order to keep an eye on him/her or to move the student from a position that encourages him/her to engage in disruptive behaviour.
With the consent of the student, refer him/her to the school counsellor along with background on the student’s behaviour over time to be counselled. Set appropriate meeting time for the student to meet with the counsellor.
- Extra Tasks
This has to do with giving the child extra tasks (e.g.extra homework). Inform the child about the extra task(s) he/she would be expected to complete. Follow up to ensure the task is completed.
- Withdrawing a responsibility
Leadership positions and other responsibilities can be temporarily or permanently withdrawn from the child (e.g. position on the school soccer team or prefectship). This is a punitive measure that can ensure conformity.
- Letter to parents
This includes writing letters to the child’s parents/guardians in order to inform them about the infractions or chronic misbehaviours exhibited by the child. Meeting with the child’s parent(s) to assess the child’s behaviour could help to determine the steps to be taken to reform his/her behaviour.
In conclusion, every recalcitrant behaviour that has attracted a sanction or punishment must be recorded in the Student Behaviour Logbook. This could give credence to the chronological behaviours and punitive measures of such students and could be used as a reference material or even a legal document when the need arises. This could serve as a deterrent as the child would have the opportunity to alter his/her behaviour in order to avoid reaching the threshold number of entries that could require even more serious sanctions.
The Director of Guidance and Counselling Unit of the GES, Ivy Kumi on Citi TV’s “The Point of View” urged parents to take on teachers who cane their children as she considers such actions by teachers as synonymous to assaults on children