Teachers, parents and school authorities have been reacting with mixed feelings to the ban on corporal punishment throughout Sierra Leone which was announced by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education. The SLTU President has even suggested that they will send the kids away since they can no longer beat them.

Speaking to Politico, the Principal of Dr. June Secondary School, Mohamed Abdulai Kemokai said he had always been against flogging and other severe punishments in his school and so to him the initiative was a welcome idea. However, he said “African children are very stubborn and difficult to handle”, and that if they were aware of the existence of such a law that protected them, they would no longer take things seriously including their school work.

Therefore, he said, the ministry should dialogue with school authorities to debate a suitable replacement corporal punishment “for the good of the children and the schools”.

The Principal of Ahmadiyya Muslim Primary School at Goderich, Adiatu M. Duada, said she feared such a law would have a negative effect on the relationship between pupils and teachers.

She said there would be a little or no fear left in the pupils for either the school authorities nor the school regulations which she said would eventually breed a bad set of pupils.

However, she said the ban had both negative and positive effects as corporal punishment might scare away some children from schools while some needed some iron hand to be put under control.

“I am on the fence,” she said, adding that corporal punishment should not be abolished totally; rather there should be a moderate punishment to be meted out to a child when they did something grave.

Mohamed Jabbie, a businessman and father of five said children should not be given heavy punishment. He emphasized severe flogging and certain punishments that might affect the child such as the lifting of chairs and desks, kneeling in the sun, etc should not be encouraged in school.

He said the Ministry of Education should put mechanisms in place for teachers to be trained well; stating that if corporal punishment was to be replaced with something else, then it should be clearly communicated and well taught out so teachers would know what was involved.

On his part, the President of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union who doubles as the Principal of the Muslim Congress Senior Secondary School, Mohamed Salieu Bangura embraced the idea stating that “this is the trend in different countries and we should follow suit. I believe a child can be sober without beating him or her.

However, he called on parents to train their children well, saying that most parents cannot discipline their children and mostly rely on the school to discipline them.