by Vanessa Knight – EM TV, Port Moresby
Concerns have been raised over the way teachers exercise punishment over students who require discipline in schools.
A recent incident involving a female student from Kemabolo Day High School in the Rigo District, Central Province, has sparked outrage and debate over the controversial issue.
The student was hospitalised after being forced to eat chillies by a teacher, as a form of punishment.
The student collapsed when she returned home, and was rushed by family members to the Kwikila Health Centre, who then referred her to Port Moresby General Hospital.
A concerned family member, who posted images of the girl in hospital on social media site Facebook, said the girl was struggling to recover, in hospital, in time to sit for her exams.
The family member who raised this issue on the social site, says the teacher allegedly responsible for exerting this form of punishment, is known to have also done this several times to other students in the past.
While corporal punishment is still lawful in schools under the provision of use of force ‘by way of correction’ in article 278, of the Criminal Code of 1974; the Education Act of 1983 states that making rules for disciplining students is the responsibility of boards of governors and governing councils.
School boards in the country are under strict instructions from the national education department, to “not use any form of physical punishment to disciple children who break school rules.”
Human rights treaty bodies operating within the country over the years have advocated for the prohibition of corporal punishment for children, making strong recommendations for the government to develop proactive strategies and carry out public education about the negative consequences it poses for children, in both the home and school settings, and instead promote positive non-violent forms of discipline.
The concerned family member has made known his intentions, to seek legal advice for the young girl’s suffering.