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JTA president warmly embraces Prime Minister's plans to outlaw corporal punishment in schools

Jamaica Gleaner / Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ plan to rid the island’s education system of corporal punishment has been warmly embraced by the president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, Howard Isaacs, who feels transformation is badly needed in regard to how the country disciplines children.

To his knowledge, most schools have already discarded the ‘old-school’ practice, and described the prime minister’s move as being long awaited.

He stressed that it would clash with other laws within the Early Childhood Act, which forbid corporal punishment.

Holness announced the plans in Parliament Tuesday during his contribution to the 2017-2018 Budget Debate.

“We have always been advocating, as an association, for it to be taken off the books in the context that most of our teachers have stopped using corporal punishment as a means of disciplining children. Some of the other regulations, like the Early Childhood Act, have spoken to it. The fact that it is coming off the Education Act now is another round in the pathway for us to stop using that measure to discipline our students,” Isaacs told The Gleaner .

SOCIAL WORKERS NEEDED At a time when children were displaying more and more bad behaviour and indiscipline in the society, Isaacs highlighted the urgent need for more social workers to help teachers and students, while finding acceptable alternative measures to instil discipline in the youth. He also stressed the importance of improving the approach to parenting.

“The entire village has to respond, not only in the schools, because the issue is becoming more chronic day by day and teachers are challenged in more ways than one. Many times these children come into the schools having challenges already. The only way we can do it is to have additional resources in the schools which can provide more support systems to the home, in the sense of everybody in the home understanding their role so the children can become more empowered and disciplined . As it is now, it is a challenge!” Isaacs said.

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