By Dumisani Ndlovu
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has condemned the total withdrawal of corporal punishment in schools, saying it has led to the degeneration of discipline in schools.
This came after most parents in Midlands rural areas challenged the parliament of Zimbabwe to revisit the corporal punishment ban both at school and at home saying it is the major contributor to the rise in child delinquency, and drug and substance abuse.
Corporal punishment was outlawed in 2017 through a High Court ruling that declared article 60(2)(c) of the Education Act unconstitutional.
The court said corporal punishment is violence against children.
In a telephone interview, PTUZ President, Dr Takavafira Zhou said although they do not support the unstrained use of corporal punishment in schools but support its careful use.
“There has been a serious debate over corporal punishment and our view as PTUZ is very clear. We do not support the unrestrained use of corporal punishment in schools but at the same time we do not support its total withdrawal in schools, we support its sparring use in schools because it is an important aspect of instilling discipline and ensuring that we minimize bullying in schools,” he said.
Dr Zhou said the total withdrawal of corporal punishment has seen a quantum leap of deterioration of discipline among students in schools, hence resulting in an array of problems, including poor academic performance.
“With the assumed total withdrawal of corporal punishment in schools, we have seen orgy sex parties organized by students because they think they are untouchable by teachers and by parents. We have also seen the drug abuse and wars among students in Bulawayo, we have witnessed wars among neighboring schools fighting over girlfriends. Students feel teachers cannot do anything to them.
Dr Zhou went on to say if any profession and schools people once disciplined lacks, the chances of achieving good results are also totally out.
“We have also seen the deterioration of results because of the deterioration of discipline. Realistically, in as much as we want to give our minors rights, we must ensure that those rights are not abused and the rights enjoyed within limited or confined parameters and not just give them unfettered rights that are abused and destroy the future of the young generation. The young generation needs to be properly nurtured to become future responsible citizens,” he said.
Dr Zhou said the total banishment of corporal punishment had given a wrong signal to the students to assume that they are now young adults and independent while they are in actual fact, remain minors under the guidance of adults and teachers.
“But by no means are we calling for unrestrained corporal punishment and for a balance sheet that would use it sparingly as opposed to total withdrawal of corporal punishment in schools,” said Dr Zhou.
Section 53 of the Constitution states that no person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture, or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.