Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Centuries-old practice of corporal punishment in schools to end this year

On account of an apparent administrative delay, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development didn’t bring an amendment bill to the Education and Training Act during the last sitting of parliament as had been indicated by a minister. However, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, that bill is on the way and when this year ends, the centuries-old practice of corporal punishment in schools will have ended.

Way before the arrival of missionaries and their schools and at least among the ethnically Tswana, corporal punishment was par for the course in initiation schools. Some missionaries write about witnessing the merciless and often unprovoked beating of initiates at bogwera – male initiation school. Where it was unprovoked, this beating was not meant to punish the subjects but to toughen them up. As late as the early 1970s, part of the graduation ceremony for Bakgatla young men returning from the bush entailed lining up in rows upon rows and being caned on the bare back. It was a point of pride for graduates being caned in this manner to not once flinch or scream out in pain.

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