The National Principals’ Association (NPA) and the Saint Lucia Teachers Union (SLTU) have both criticized the Ministry of Education’s rush to scrap corporal punishment in schools.
At a joint news conference Wednesday, the Presidents of both organisations flatly denied assertions by the ministry that there had been consultation on the move.
They indicated that principals and teachers were invited to meetings after the fact.
SLTU President, Julian Monrose, told reporters that corporal punishment has been part of the school system since its inception.
He acknowledged the right of the ministry to scrap the practice.
“However, if you are going to withdraw it, you would want to put systems in place and give the teachers skills training in alternative forms of punishment, because bad behavior a problem in our schools,” Monrose told reporters.
He said notification of the intention to suspend and eventually abolish corporal punishment in schools came as a shock.
Monrose said that the SLTU is concerned that the ministry would act with such haste on the issue of corporal punishment, but appears to be powerless when it comes to violence among students.
“Nothing is happening when it comes to security in schools,” he lamented, adding that almost on a daily basis students go to school with weapons, including guns, knives and scissors.
The SLTU President recalled that the union had requested that the ministry of education address the issue of security in schools, and would have liked to see the same haste in addressing corporal punishment demonstrated in addressing security concerns.
NPA President, Pauline Antoine Prospere, told Monday’s news conference that she did not believe principals have a problem with the abolition of corporal punishment, but asserted that change takes time.
“There should be adequate consultation with stakeholders if this were to happen,” the NPA President explained.
Both the NPA and the SLTU expressed concern about the limited number of counsellors available in the school system and other support mechanisms,
The ministry of education has indicated its intention to stop corporal punishment in schools by May 1, 2020.