School Principal slams use of corporal punishment in schools

The President of the Samoa Secondary Schools Principal Association (S.S.S.P.A.), Lesaisaea Reupena Matafeo, says schools should be a happy environment.

The corporal punishment, he believes, will only strike fear in students.

A college principal is currently under investigation by the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) for allegedly disciplining a student with a plastic pipe. 

M.E.S.C. Minister Loau Keneti Sio told the Samoa Observer he was disappointed after he received reports of the college principal, as his Ministry has been running seminars for teachers on the appropriate use of “reasonable force” in line with the law.

But Lesaisaea told this newspaper, in an interview on Monday, that schools should have a “friendly and happy environment” and teachers and Principals should not use corporal punishment on their students.

He said one of the impacts of that form of discipline is students being afraid to speak up for themselves. 

“So if he or she grew up in a learning environment of corporal punishment, they will think that teaching the students using corporal punishment is the right way, because that is how they were brought up,” he said.

According to the S.S.S.P.A. President, it is wrong for teachers or principals to use corporal punishment on students because no one has the right to touch another person’s body without their permission. 

“Here in Avele College, corporal punishment is zero, it’s not allowed," he said. "So I disagree about using it in schools."

Making reference to the use of corporal punishment in Samoa’s historical past, Lesaisaea said it would have been appropriate in that era.

But it is different today with the introduction of the rights of the child and they should not be subject to physical force. 

“If there are teachers or principals who are doing this corporal punishment, that is a very high degree of stupidity.”

Lesaisaea – who is also the Principal of Avele College – said if teachers cannot exercise restraint and are not patient when it comes to handling students in schools, then they should resign and look for another job.

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