Minister says proper use of corporal punishment is being taught

The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) is investigating a school principal alleged to have assaulted a student with a plastic pipe, as the Minister undertakes to train teachers to better deal with unruly students. 

Minister of M.E.SC., Loau Keneti Sio, said that the Ministry's investigation would be concurrent to the Police's, and examine allegations a Year 13 student was subject to corporal punishment after he was struck repeatedly on the torso and the face.

The Principal under investigation, declined to comment or confirm or deny the allegations, when contacted by the Samoa Observer. 

She has not been charged by Police, this newspaper confirmed on Saturday. 

But the Minister said the allegation is disappointing.

“The incident was very sad to hear," he said. "The individual should have known much better about the law but I guess they decided to take the law into their own hands."

The Minister was very disappointed when he found out about the incident as he said that no object should be used to strike a child.

“It is more disappointing when the matter involves a headmaster whom the students rely on in terms of their safety within schools.”

He added that when corporal punishment was being reintroduced, there were a lot of different views about it.

“There were some parents who were happy that the law was reinforced so that children are disciplined but the law is there but I guess it is up to the individual how they interpret it," he said. 

“At the moment, there is an ongoing investigation being done by our Ministry which is the usual process."

Loau stated the report and its findings will be submitted to the Public Service Commission, who will have the ultimate say on the teacher's future. 

“But the individual should have considered the consequences of taking the law into their own hands," he said. 

Loau also added that sometimes there are cases where teachers have a difficult time dealing with disobedient students who cause trouble.

“But our Ministry is having seminars on the use of corporal punishment to discipline a child the right way," he said. 

It is understood the Palalaua College Principal, Leoloa Tuuu Mautofiga, is at the center of the corporal punishment allegation.

The student – who allegedly claimed he was struck with a pipe for posting a photo on social media of himself and a friend in school uniforms – has been identified as 18-year-old Brian Vaela'a. He is in Year 13 and is from Siumu.

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