Last update: 05-Dec-2013 3:57 pm
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Youths debate ‘school whip’ in Parliament
The Parliament chamber, at Tower D, Port-of-Spain, became alive with activity yesterday after three weeks of silence as secondary school students assumed the role of parliamentarians debating a motion to bring back the whip in schools. Opposition members used the Bible as their authority to call on the government to revisit the Children Act, which prohibits teachers from using corporal punishment as a form of discipline but their arguments were rejected. The students were taking part in the 11th National Youth Parliamentary Debate. Sittings of the House of Representatives and the Senate were adjourned late last month to allow politicians to campaign for the local government elections and the St Joseph by-election. The motion contended there was an upsurge in school violence and corporal punishment should be reintroduced to provide teachers with an additional method to counter violence by students. Several youths playing the role of opposition MPs used the scripture from Proverbs 13:24, “he who spares the rod, hates his son but he who loves him is careful to discipline him,” to support their argument that school bullies and other rebellious students should get the rod of correction.
Daniel Adams, of Bishop’s High, Tobago, opposition MP for Talparo, quoting the biblical verse, said: “Our children are spoilt.” Adams said he was sure former president and prime minister ANR Robinson was given a good Castara licking during his schooldays and current Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Orville London, a former principal, would have dealt the rod of correction to his students. He was also sure President Anthony Carmona would have got a “good whopping” at the Santa Flora Primary School. Opposition MP for Cumuto/Manzanilla, Enrique Ali-Cashier, of Chaguanas North Secondary, backed up his colleague, saying corporal punishment was not abuse and was supported by the Bible. Foolishness was bound up in the heart of a child and the rod of correction would fix this, Ali-Cashier said. Romauld Johnson, of St Benedict’s College, opposition MP for Sangre Grande, waving a photo of the mother of 14-year old Rondell Dickson of Waterloo High School who was stabbed to death by a schoolmate, also used the Bible to back up his argument in favour of corporal punishment.
It was Reul Thompson, minister of Tobago development, who attends Pastor Winston Cuffie’s Miracle Ministries High, who shot down the opposition’s use of the Bible. “He (Adams) is using the Bible to back up his argument on a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society. How could he possibly want to use the Bible?” Thompson asked incredulously. Government MPs contended that beating schoolchildren was barbaric and would only incite them to more violence. Jonathan Khan, of Naparima College, in his role as minister of finance, quoted Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who said the “spare the rod” quote was “an old adage that belonged to the archives not in schools.” The opposition sought to show that corporal punishment was not beating children to inflict injury but only pain to deter them from committing another wrong act. Independent Senator Dhanayshar Mahabir, one of the judges at the youth parliamentary debate, addressing the session, said: “One does not have to believe one’s position, one has to articulate it properly.”
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.