The Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare, believes the positive discipline policy which mostly banned corporal punishment may have contributed to lax discipline in schools.
Speaking after an incident of bullying turned fatal at the Konongo-Odumase Senior High School last week, Mr. Asare on The Point of View said “a lot of teachers have developed some inertia when it comes to enforcing existing rules.”
Five students of the Konongo Odumase Senior High School were arrested after a 15-year-old first-year student died from a stab wound.The deceased student had been trying to stop a fellow first year from being bullied.
“We have adequate rules on paper, but bullying is able to take place and get to the magnitude we are discussing because the control mechanisms are not working properly,” Mr. Asare argued.
In his view, teachers have become less motivated to ensure discipline because of the policy which restricts corporal punishments to head teachers.
In addition, Mr. Asare said teachers were keen on the policy.
“The level of acceptance of the policy was very low. The people in custody of the kids are the teachers, so if they do not accept the policy, they will just give up, fold their hands, teach and watch the kids do what they want to do.”
Aside from the policy, Mr. Asare surmised that bullying can take place because there are not enough teachers outside academic hours to watch over students.
“When that happens, it makes it very difficult for such numbers of teachers to control an average of 3,000 per school.”
Kwesi Kwarteng, the Education Ministry’s PRO, admitted that the ministry was concerned with teacher’s acceptance of the positive discipline policy.
“We could have done more with regards to that level of engagement,” he said.
However, he said there were misconceptions about policy’s role in ensuring discipline because “some teachers felt authority had been taken from them.”
“It is quite unfortunate when discipline is reduced to punishment. The whole concept of discipline is not to inflict physical pain on the individual,” Mr. Kwarteng said.