Education Minister backs abolition of corporal punishment

Sports Minister, Daryll Matthew.
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By Carlena Knight

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Amid widespread discussion on the use of corporal punishment in the nation’s schools, the Minister of Education, while speaking in his own capacity, said this form of punishment should be abolished.

“What I am suggesting, or what Daryll Matthew is suggesting — and I have spoken to some of my colleagues about it — but I don’t think it should still be on our books.

“To me, that is one of the remnants of slavery that disturbs me greatly that in our society in 2021 we believe that the best way to discipline someone is to beat them into submission.

“I just can’t wrap my mind around that at all and so it was discussed at length in Cabinet yesterday. The Cabinet is mindful of the impact it could have on the society and the psyche and I have been asked to have some consultations to discuss with the various groups – the teacher’s union, the parents and so forth – and get some feedback.

“I may feel this way but lo and behold, society may feel very different, but I know nobody is going to hit my child, but that is just Daryll Matthew speaking,” Matthew said Thursday on the Good Morning JoJo Sports show.

Debate over corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure in schools has taken centre stage recently, after two young female students were left nursing injuries after they were beaten by their teachers.

These discussions have now attracted the attention of Cabinet ministers, and according to this week’s post-Cabinet notes, the body is giving consideration to abolishing corporal punishment in schools across Antigua and Barbuda. 

However, the members also recommended that consultations with principals, teachers, parents, guardians and others with an interest in the operation of schools should also take place before a final decision is made.

“Expunging the authority to engage in beatings of those youth under the charge of educators is properly left to parents and guardians; alternative forms of punishment are likely to be adopted and beatings ended,” the notes stated.

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