Problem of the study
Although current policy concerning violence in schools states that corporal punishment is banned, we find that it is being widely practiced in schools as a common tool for discipline with barely parents’ ability to stop or report it. Reporting is usually for extreme cases reported about serious injuries or even death of children that are published to the public such as the death of a child in one of Punjab schools as a result of a teacher’s beating. There is little record on child abuse or child death resulting from violence.
Possible reasons for expanding the use of corporal punishment in schools in spite of its legal ban could be administrative acceptance represented by the school and social acceptance represented by parents. This phenomenon is stirred by administrative acceptance represented by the school through not implementing the policy effectively; lack of communication with family; inability to find alternative means of discipline to teachers; and marginalizing the role of social workers. Social acceptance is exemplified by parents’ acceptance; lack of awareness; applying CP on their children at home; and refrain from reporting actively their children’s exposure to assault believing that the school will not take deterrent action.
This study shows that CP is widespread in schools especially in public schools. This failure of implementation was mainly attributed to administrative and social acceptance. We will consider in this chapter how to reduce the gap by dealing with factors involved. We presented earlier what strategies have been adopted in other countries to enforce the ban of corporal punishment. In this section, we will develop a professional approach to correcting student behavior that best suits the Egyptian context as a strategy for combating corporal punishment in schools, as well as specifying alternatives to corporal punishment.
Generally, policy enforcement cannot be the responsibility of one single party. Rather, all entities and organizations involved in policy making and policy implementation should collaborate to successfully reduce and then eliminate corporal punishment from schools to achieve the best interest for the child. Traditionally, the Ministry of Education represents the policy makers in terms of education legislation and policy formulation; however, empirical experience shows a critical need for other entities and organizations concerned with child rights to intervene with new programs for child protection that work in accordance with the ministry’s policy. To develop an approach to combating corporal punishment in schools in Pakistan, other strategies that have been successfully implemented by other countries should be taken into account and assessed with relation to the Pakistani context.
In this respect, the following proposed approach would reflect a combination of other countries’ experiences in combating corporal punishment with regard to the general atmosphere in Pakistan.
To start with the school-based factors, professional programs designed by specialized NGOs such as Save the Children and UNICEF should be introduced and supported by the Ministry of Education. As discussed previously in the literature review section, the model of the child-friendly school presented by the UNICEF in Australia and the Eastern Caribbean; could be adopted and piloted in Egypt also. The pilot already implemented by Save the Children in Alexandria demonstrates a way forward in this regard.
The practical experience of the latter project demonstrates that even successful projects cannot avoid going through the long path of bureaucracy in order to scale up their approach. There must be full awareness that policy enforcement will not be attained without providing required facilities that accelerate program initiations by entities and organizations assisting in policy implementation. This would also facilitate scaling up these programs. With reference to the UNICEF module, the schools where the program is being piloted should be labeled with a different name like “child-friendly school” to distinguish them from regular schools, just as experimental public schools are distinguished from regular public schools. As explained above, the project is in need for proper financial support to continue as it relies heavily on external donations.
One approach to overcome the budget issue, might be to allocate part of the education budget to finance these programs as long as the final outcome would be directly associated with developing education system in schools. Data findings and other studies indicate that eliminating CP from schools will require the MOE to spend some money as a partial step to develop education. This budget allocation would not exceed the cost required to give annual training to teachers, social workers, and school principals along the lines of the annual training for schools in preparation for the annual school contest sponsored by the USAID.
At the school level, the role of social workers in schools needs to be activated to match what is stated in their job description. In other words, a social worker would represent a mediator or facilitator between students and teachers in order to supervise the relation between them, sustain policy enforcement, report policy violation cases, and investigate students’ learning and behavior problems so as to solve them. In order to add this dimension to the social workers’ job, they should be empowered by the ministry and receive professional training through specialists in NGOs concerned with education and learning processes. Activating the social worker’s role this way would take from the teacher the burden of correcting students’ deviant or violent behavior and the role of teacher would be exclusively for teaching and reporting the students’ progress to their principals. In order to empower and activate the social worker’s mission in monitoring policy enforcement and reporting policy violation, they should report directly to the Ministry of Education. So, instead of having a general inspector who comes to school once or twice per semester to evaluate teachers’ performance in class and make sure that everything is going well, with the social worker’s assistance, the whole school would be consistently committed.
With regard to the teacher, it is obvious that most teachers lack proper qualifications as indicated in previous sections. The process of qualifying teachers and continuing their development should start at early stages. To start from scratch, teachers should be acquainted with alternatives to non-violent disciplinary techniques and behavior-management techniques early through the faculty of education where they first learn the basics of teaching. The two years of training they spend in schools before graduation would be an appropriate venue to practice those techniques and discuss with their professors the challenges they face. Later, upon actual recruitment, they ought to receive regular training by the ministry or specialized NGOs as part of a piloted program. Teachers who exhibit commitment and excellence in such training could be awarded a professional certificate from a reputable educational organization. As a necessary complement to the promotional and training programs, there should be a well-developed deterrent policy for teachers who still use corporal punishment despite training. Depending on the size of policy violation, the sanction policy would state that those teachers would for example have a permanent mark in their career file, have delay in their promotion, or be prevented from receiving any kind of usual incentives.
Considering disciplinary techniques, educators need to find means of punishment that are not degrading or humiliating to students to communicate a message to the students that it is the misbehavior that is being punished not the student himself. One of the most proactive means of discipline is “Meaningful Work” which curbs the student’s misbehavior through assigning tasks to them such as raising the flag for a while, helping out in the school’s cafeteria or any other tasks that require physical effort. This strategy is apparently one of the best ones because ostensibly it incurs punishment but actually it satisfies the student’s need to feel important by doing something useful. Another example proposed as an alternative to corporal punishment is to increase the time spent on doing school-related tasks such as by giving extra homework. In-class time outs also would be a good alternative technique which aims at temporary isolation for the student from the class to give them a chance to calm down and rethink his or her mistake. Additionally, the student could be punished through depriving his or her from participating in any of the school’s activities or from taking a break. Finally, there could be a daily progress sheet for each student where teachers can take notes of the student’s misbehavior. This sheet would be sent daily to the student’s parents to involve them in reforming the student’s misbehavior and keep them updated with the student weaknesses. In cases where none of these approaches work, suspension for some days could be used as a punishment resulting in expulsion if the overall numbers of suspension days exceeded a maximum number.
The research findings proved a positive relation between administrative acceptance and the use of corporal punishment in schools in the sense that school administrators themselves practice corporal punishment. Moreover, they deal passively with parents’ complaints, do not communication with parents, hardly apply sanction on teachers violating law, and have failed to activate the role the social worker. The research findings also proved a direct relation between social acceptance and the use of corporal punishment in schools in terms of practicing corporal punishment at home with children, poor follow up with the school, approval of corporal punishment in school, and refrain from reporting actively their children exposure to corporal punishment.
It can be concluded also from the research findings that corporal punishment is not seen by most parents or teachers as an effective means of discipline, although a minority see it as somewhat useful. Thus, there should be sufficient support for non-violent means of discipline if they are properly selected and implemented. This result denies the traditional assumption that corporal punishment helps students to study and behaves well, and maintains the teachers’ respect in class. Conversely, the findings support a conclusion that violence triggers more violence among students, creates a grudge against teachers and the school, and causes students to challenge teachers.
In response to the study findings that conforms to our hypothesis, recommendations were formulated to deal with school-based factors and family-based reasons for corporal punishment in schools. Regarding the school, it has been recommended that policies must be enforced by applying sanctions on practitioners; that the social worker should be more involved in reforming students and organizing activities; and that teachers need more training on disciplinary techniques. Schools should involve parents more in reforming their children’s behavior. Concerning parents, it has been suggested that civil society organizations including the media and religious communities could help in raising parents’ awareness of the necessity to remove CP from school and home, specifying the right course of action to report it, and clarifying the damage of CP on children. Plus, parents’ attention should be drawn to the right course of action to be taken against corporal punishment against their children and better means provided for doing so.