Insure your car, home and valuables with iWYZE
It is a miracle that I have a matric certificate. That I hated school must surely be one of my best kept secrets. When I look back, I’m amazed how I was always in the top three in primary school. That I hold the rare distinction of representing my school in the Science Olympiad in Standard 5 (yes, I’m that ancient) and racked up a couple of subject merit certificates in high school still baffles me.
It is thanks to my Sub A (now Grade 1) teacher, that I developed a deep dislike for – she spanked me on the very first day of school!
My sin? It turned out I was the only one in class who could not write “a”, “e”, “i”, “o”, “u”.
The experience left me with an abiding dislike for corporal punishment. I could not make sense of why I was expected to be able to write on the first day of setting foot in school. Was I not there to acquire the skill of writing vowels from her, I wondered?
It was years later that I realised why I could not write vowels – unlike my classmates, I did not go to pre-school. I do not know why I skipped kindergarten because my parents could afford it. The silly product of Bantu Education did not investigate enough so she could hatch a workable remedy.
The spanking administered by the mistress was not to be the last I experienced and witnessed. As my schooling progressed, there were many vicious beatings. Our teachers believed canings kept us on the straight and narrow.
By and large it was taken for granted that corporal punishment was a legitimate method of instilling discipline on errant pupils, well, until post-apartheid SA outlawed it. After all, parents administer it at home, albeit with a dollop of love.
There is even scriptural justification for it: you spare the rod, you spoil the child.
In principle, I, like scores of teachers, support corporal punishment if the intention is to punish wayward behaviour. But I, like many parents, am against it because of the reality of vindictive, malicious even, teachers. I swear some of the teachers were driven by sadistic motives – scoundrels who derived pleasure in inflicting pain.
There is merit in the argument that “violence begets violence”. By upholding corporal punishment, as parents and teachers we communicate the message that violent means solve problems.
Hence the unacceptably high levels of violence in our country. I bet boys who grow up to be girlfriend/wife batterers take their cue from their past experiences of being on the receiving end of beatings.
It is for this reason that I can appreciate KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Senzo Mchunu’s stern warning that teachers who employ corporal punishment risk losing their jobs.
“We would like to send a stern warning against those among us who still practise corporal punishment. As a department we view it as serious defiance, a serious offence that can lead to the termination of employment,” Mchunu said this week after the Supreme Court of Appeal hit the department in the pocket.
The department lost an appeal against a man who was injured as a pupil nine years ago when “punishment” went awry.
His eye was injured by the teacher’s belt buckle as the teacher beat a fellow pupil.
Whether we are for or against corporal punishment is neither here nor there – it remains illegal.
But the country needs to swiftly provide teachers with efficacious alternative penal methods. The reality is that we have in our midst rebellious, defiant and violent thugs masquerading as pupils. Some assault teachers.