Free State condemns viral corporal punishment incident

Monday, February 6, 2023

The Free State Department of Education has instituted an investigation into an alleged incident of corporal punishment administered last week by the principal of Ntsu Secondary School in Bethlehem in the Thabo Mofutsanyane District.

In a statement, department spokesperson, Howard Ndaba, said corporal punishment against any learner is condemned in the harshest possible terms.

Corporal punishment is banned and may not be used as a method of enforcing discipline in schools.

“Principals, educators, learners, parents and/or any support staff are required to report the use of corporal punishment following the prescripts contained in the protocol to deal with incidences of corporal punishment in schools.

“Harsh action will be taken against anyone who violates the prohibition on corporal punishment,” said Ndaba.

He said images depicted on various social media platforms indicate that the principal of Ntsu Secondary used corporal punishment as a way to discipline a learner who reportedly failed to comply with the detention sanction conditions at school.

“Corporal punishment is a violation of children’s rights, physical integrity, dignity, health, development, education,” the spokesperson said.  

The effects of corporal punishment are far-reaching and can cause mental and physical harm to children, as well as short- and long-term aggression and antisocial behaviour in learners, even as they mature.

Crucially, Ndaba said, corporal punishment is not a solution to disciplinary problems in a school or any other setting.

The department has commenced with an investigation into the incident and will work with urgency to establish the facts.

“The department will continue to promote safety at schools and remind teachers of their responsibilities regarding the administration of discipline in schools.

"School governing bodies are requested to mobilise all stakeholders to play a meaningful role in the abolition of corporal punishment in schools,” he said. –