CASTRIES: St Lucia’s Education Minister, Robert Lewis, has denied that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is pressuring the nation to get rid of corporal punishment in schools.
According to Lewis, while his ministry is looking into the matter of corporal punishment, a decision must be made in consultation with the St. Lucia Teachers Union (SLTU), the c (NPA) and parents.
The education minister said last week that it would be difficult to get some people to agree with ceasing corporal punishment since it has been part of the education system for so long.
Lewis felt that UNICEF’s move to create “Child-friendly Schools” in the Eastern Caribbean was needed.
“I want to make it clear that I was a teacher for 22 years and I have never bought into the idea of corporal punishment,” he said.
Lewis noted in some instances corporal punishment has been administered in rage, resulting in the abuse of children.
With support from UNICEF and their ministries of education, countries in the Eastern Caribbean have begun applying the concept of “Child-Friendly Schools”, where children and adolescents learn and develop the knowledge, skills and abilities for life in a healthy, safe, inclusive, protective and respectful environment.
The initiative, underway since 2007, is centered on the introduction of alternatives to the practice of corporal punishment.
UNICEF believes in order to legally ban all forms of violence against children, including violent discipline, countries must explicitly prohibit the practice and also eliminate any provisions that allow its continued use.