Senators throw weight behind corporal punishment

MASERU — Several members of the Senate on Tuesday objected to a section of the Education Bill which seeks to abolish corporal punishment in schools.
The new Education Bill, which is before the upper house of parliament, seeks to abolish corporal punishment and discourage the ill-treatment of students in schools.
Senators lambasted the proposed education law saying it was against Basotho culture which allowed room to discipline errant children.
Tlali Mohale, who is the principal chief of Tajane, said corporal punishment is allowed under traditional customs to reprimand children.
Mohale said corporal punishment should therefore be retained in the proposed law.
“We are a nation (that respects our) culture and tradition.
“Our tradition allows for corporal punishment to instil good behaviour in children.
“But I must be properly understood. I am not saying children should be ill-treated at schools.
“I am merely saying when a child has committed a serious offence at school he or she should be subjected to corporal punishment,” Mohale said.
Principal chief for Thaba-Bosiu, Khoabane Theko, also objected to the proposal to abolish corporal punishment.
“Much as I support the character of the law, we should remain with the corporal punishment that we know.
“But it should be determined on how far it goes.
“It should also be properly administered because even the Bible in the Book of Proverbs supports corporal punishment against children,” Theko said.
Theko said the Minister of Education ‘Mamphono Khaketla should consider reviewing laws governing institutions of higher learning in Lesotho.
He said a new law should be enacted to address errant behaviour which he said was rampant at institutions of higher learning.
He said students from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) were the worst-behaved.
“The insults from those students are so bad that one wonders how they were raised in their respective families,” Theko said.
He also said the NUL students engaged in acts of hooliganism and destroyed the university’s property unnecessarily.
“When money does not come on time does it warrant for the burning of buildings?
“I am not saying we should imitate those whites from Harvard, Yale and Oxford universities.
“But there should at least be laws to regulate (students’) behaviour in our higher learning institutions,” Theko said.
The senators however endorsed a provision in the new law that seeks to punish parents or guardians who deny their children an opportunity to attend school.
Responding to the comments, Khaketla said she will not insist on the clause abolishing corporal punishment as the National Assembly had also objected to the same clause.
“I did not even bother to pursue the abolishment of corporal punishment in this House because the National Assembly has already dismissed its abolishment,” Khaketla said.
The Education Bill is still under discussion in the Senate.

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