I write to congratulate the Hon Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Hon Loau Keneti Sio, for changing his mind and continue to support the banning of corporal punishment in schools.
Personally, as a former C.E.O. of M.E.S.C. and an Educator, I find it unpalatable that we can even consider smacking a child in order to modify his or her behaviour.
Many educational researches on the same area have proven that harsh physical punishments do not improve students in school behaviour or academic performance. In fact, one recent study found that in countries where corporal punishment is frequently used, schools have performed worse academically than those in countries that prohibit corporal punishment.
Many children in schools who have been subjected to hitting or other harsh disciplinary practices have reported subsequent problems with depression, fear and anger.
These students frequently withdraw from school activities and disengage academically.
An action survey carried out by M.E.S.C. in 2012 on the effect of corporal punishment on student learning found that victims often develop deteriorating peer relationships, have difficulty with concentration, have lower school achievement, have antisocial behaviour, intense dislike of authority, somatic complaints, a tendency for school avoidance and school drop-out, and other evidence of negative high-risk adolescent behaviour. As such, the outcomes of this survey reaffirmed to M.E.S.C. that the enforcement of the current regulations to stop corporal punishment in schools is the right thing to do.
Parents also play a huge part in disciplining their children in order to improve their behaviour and learning outcomes. I personally believe that parental engagement in children’s learning in the home makes the greatest difference to student achievement. However, I won’t delve into effective parenting as I am sure most parents in Samoa are aware of their role in shaping their children’s behaviour.
Overall, corporal punishment is a destructive form of discipline that is ineffective in producing educational environments in which students can thrive. Rather than relying on harsh and threatening disciplinary tactics, schools and teachers should be encouraged to develop Positive Behaviour Support Programmes (P.B.S.P.), which have proven effective in reducing the need for harsh discipline while supporting a safe and productive learning environment. P.B.S.P. is currently being used in Western Australian schools where I now work as an educator and I testify to its effectiveness and positive impact on student behaviour. All stakeholders such as Parents, Government, Churches and the Community at large can work together with Teachers and Schools to implement positive behavioural programs to discipline misbehaved students in schools.
Ia manuia aoga a alo ma fanau a Samoa i lenei tausaga.
Matafeo Falanaipupu Tanielu Aiafi