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(SNO) — Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Philip J. Pierre has said his party is not against the abolition of corporal punishment in school but believes more time is needed to achieve it.
He also believes that the government should have engaged all stakeholders on the matter before making a decision.
“What the commission should have done, before they made the pronouncement, they should have floated the idea, let discussions happen through the PTAs, through the principal association, through the teachers union and then come to a conclusion,” he said at a press conference.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, said it has suspended and eventually abolished corporal punishment in schools in keeping with the many international conventions of which the island is a signatory.
Chief Education Officer, Ruffina Charles, said that while the Education Act had no stated policy for the abolition of corporal punishment it did contain structures that stipulated how corporal punishment should be administered.
Pierre pointed out that the SLP is not against abolishing corporal punishment but thinks that teachers should be given more time to adjust to other forms of discipline.
“If you notice, none of my colleagues has stated we are against abolition or for,” he stated. “We haven’t said so … what we are saying is the process.”
The idea has already 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.