Opposition spokesperson on Education and Human Development, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert yesterday called on the Ministry of Education and the Jamaica Teachers' Association to show greater support for teacher training in the area of positive discipline.
In a news release issued by the Jamaica Labour Party, the organisation said that Dalyrmple-Philibert was "extremely disturbed" by the JTA President's stance on corporal punishment in the face of increasing reports of violence against children, including the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline for unacceptable behaviour in schools as well as beating children as a means of "encouraging" excellence.
Aware that the Ministry of Education and the JTA conduct regular summer trainings and workshops with teachers, principals and school boards, she urged that this topic be highlighted in the coming months in preparation for the new school year.
The Opposition spokesperson acknowledged that current JLP leader Andrew Holness had repeatedly spoken out against the use of corporal punishment in Jamaica's schools while he served as minister of education from 2007-2011 "despite the fact that his stance was not well received by some who culturally adhere to the maxim 'spare the rod and spoil the child'", the news release noted.
However, Dalrymple-Philibert stressed that: "We are too violent a society to teach our children that violence is the best way to encourage our children to perform better on tests, or the best method to use when seeking to correct mal-adapted behaviour.
"We must seek to understand why a child missed test items and assist him/her to learn the material. We must seek to understand the root causes of indiscipline and address them, not simply temporarily stem the bad behaviour," she said.
The JLP education spokesperson noted that UNICEF had funded training material and workshops to provide teachers and schools islandwide with thoughtful and workable alternatives to corporal punishment, and asked for an update on the implementation of this much needed intervention.
She expressed the hope that the programme could be assessed and expanded at both the pre-service and in-service levels.
"Let us remember," she stated, "that discipline comes from the root word 'disciple' and is educational in nature. Punishment doesn't teach the lifelong lessons we need learned and it certainly doesn't fit in with the child-friendly school standards we wish to promote in order for our children to learn and grow in safe, secure environments."