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(SNO) — The National Student Council (NSC) has said it is in support of a decision by the government of Saint Lucia to abolish corporal punishment in schools on the island, saying that the welfare of students must be taken into consideration.
The organisation said that it condemns all forms of violence and this extends to corporal punishment.
“Given the recent cabinet conclusion outlining the suspension and eventual abolition of corporal punishment in schools, it is imperative that we take into consideration the welfare of students at learning institutions,” the organization said.
The NSC said that corporal punishment has been practiced by educators for years “many of whom have gained popularity among students for the very practice”.
The organization pointed to Article 50 of the Education Act of 1999 which it said clearly outlines the conditions for administering corporal punishment in schools, however, it said that students say many cases of punishment are not consistent with the guiding legislation.
“This hints that over the years corporal punishment has moved from a well thought-through punitive measure to an impulsive way of punishing students who don’t adhere to the school rules,” the NSC said. “The NSC sees reason for the Department of Education implementing this policy and we anticipate the alternative measures that will come into play as of May 1st 2020.”
The student body said it believes that students play a major role in shaping education policy and should be consulted in the months ahead regarding the matter.
“We remain committed to being the voice of all students, ensuring that they benefit from environments conducive to effective learning,” the NSC said.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, said it has suspended and will eventually abolished corporal punishment in schools in keeping with the many international conventions of which the island is a signatory.
The way the matter was presented has been criticized by the National Principals’ Association (NPA) and the St. Lucia Teachers Union (SLTU).
They said that principals and teachers were only invited to meetings on the matter after the announcement for the abolition was made.
The SLTU believes that systems should be put in place to give the teachers skills-training in alternative forms of punishment, while the NPA said such changes take time.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party said that while it is not against the idea, more time is needed for implementing the new policy.