Learners don maize sacks for misbehaving

25 October 2021 | Education

TUYEIMO HAIDULA



OSHAKATI

Learners at Omuthiyagwiipundi Combined School in Omuthiya are forced to wear maize sacks each time they misbehave at school, a punishment deemed fit by their teachers.

Parents and some community members raised the issue recently, accusing the teachers of abusing their children.

It is alleged that the learners are dressed in cut up maize sacks with the words “I am dangerous” and “I have a boyfriend” written in blue capital letters.

Others read: “I am too hyper and I have no manners”. The learners reportedly have to wear the sacks to class for the whole week to avoid committing whatever transgression again.

The parents argued that the victims of the alleged punishment have been left with the psychological trauma of having to wear these words around and feel humiliated.

Shortly after independence, the Namibian Supreme Court found that the use of corporal punishment in schools violates the constitutional right to dignity of learners.

The Education Act of 2001 also forbids the use of corporal punishment in state or private schools. The debate has resurfaced over the years, with some teachers and parents wanting the reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools.

However, education executive director Sanet Steenkamp has reiterated that corporal punishment is a subject of controversy and the ministry will never change its stance on it.

Humiliation

Oshikoto education director Aletta Eises condemned the practice, saying the ministry is moving away from the humiliation of learners, instead focusing on teaching children in a culture of care.

Eises on Thursday said she only learnt about the children’s form of punishment through social media.

She said the inspector of education of the circuit in which the school falls attended to the matter and the principal submitted a report, which her office received on Wednesday.

“The directorate condemns this type of behaviour from any of our staff members. This is humiliating the children and can have far-reaching consequences regarding the mental health of the said learner.

“We requested documentary proof of the support the learners receive to change their behaviour,” she said.

Eises added that they also requested counselling reports from the school and are still waiting.

Safe discipline

She said the ministry has guiding documents for disciplinary actions schools should implement.

“We have discipline within a safe school framework,” she said.

She added that stakeholders and parents should approach the principal’s office or consult the school board with such issues, as “social media will just further expose the child and not resolve the challenge”.

Eises further said the ministry has procedures in place to deal with misconduct, and the matter will be addressed as per those procedures.

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