Use of corporal punishment is inhumane-GES recommended list of disciplinary measures
The Ghana Education Service (GES) has cautioned teachers against the use of corporal punishment and inhumane treatment as a way of correcting students/pupils in schools. The Ghana Education Service (GES) initiated the Safe Schools Programme as part of efforts aimed at making pre-tertiary schools in the country safe and secured for teaching and learning.
According to GES, the use of corporal punishment in pre-tertiary schools is unacceptable and must be treated as such. The use of corporal punishment and other inhumane treatment in correcting the student in the school was banned in February 2017 and was re-emphasised in 2019, with a directive for all teachers to adopt the Positive Discipline toolkit as the only measure for correcting misbehaviour of learners in schools.
The management of GES dem it regrettable to note that in recent times, there has been an increase in the use of corporal punishment in schools as there have been reported cases of use of corporal punishment on learners who misconduct themselves.
The Management of GES has therefore strongly cautioned teachers against the continued use of corporal punishment in schools. Teachers have been entreated to apply measures spelled out in the Positive Discipline Toolkit and the Head Teachers’ Handbook (Appendix 2) in dealing with all discipline issues among children. (SEE THE ALTERNATIVES FOR CANING BELOW)
Management of GES has threatened to apply the relevant sanctions consistent with the provisions of the revised Code of Conduct for staff of the Ghana Education Service, should this directive be ignored.
ALTERNATIVES FOR CANING; GES LIST OF RECOMMENDED DISCIPLINARY MEASURES
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 the toolkit by the Guidance and Counseling Unit offers options for the effective application of positive discipline for different forms of misbehavior and proposes suitable proactive or reactive measures for addressing them, instead of the traditional approach, which is caning. The toolkit has classified misbehavior 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 behaviors from the students. Corporal punishment has been abolished by GES. Kindly follow the disciplinary measures below.
List of measures approved by GES to ensure discipline in schools:
1. 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 litter or cleaning some particular area of the school; but certainly not the toilets. Picking litter, 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.
3. 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 an appropriate meeting time for the student to meet with the counselor.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Letter to parents
This includes writing letters to the child’s parents/guardians in order to inform them about the infractions or chronic misbehaviors 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.
TEACHERS ARE TO NOTE THAT THE CONTINUOUS USE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN SCHOOL IS AGAINST THE GES PRINCIPLES AND MUST BE TREATED AS SUCH. KINDLY ABIDE BY THE DISCIPLINARY TOOL KIT AND BE GUIDED BY THE HEADTEACHER’S HANDBOOK (APPENDIX 2) IN DEALING WITH STUDENTS/PUPILS’ MISBEHAVIOUR.