Going Nuts, the PNG Way

Re-introduce corporal punishment to the education system

Corporal punishmentAGNES ARE

IN an article, Order and Control in Schools, D Orere (2006) said children today are “developing behaviours … which are not expected of them as students.”

This leads to the question of whether corporal punishment should be re-introduced into the education system in Papua New Guinea.

While Orere stressed it would be difficult to impart knowledge to frightened students, there are other reasons for corporal punishment to be reinstated.

Teachers are held responsible and criticised for the wrongdoing of the youngsters even as society becomes more lawless, violent and undisciplined.

There is less respect for authority, politeness and good manners, and children today are ruder, use more bad language and are careless about their appearance.

“School must be held in part to be blamed for this state of affairs, for it is their products which are failing to come to the desired standard.

“Teachers are not doing enough to impart the right knowledge to children and to ensure that their behaviours are socially acceptable” Straughan (1982).

Teachers must teach children not only to be knowledgeable but to be good. It is for this reason that corporal punishment was allowed in schools when PNG was governed by the Europeans.

Corporal punishment should also be re-introduced into the education system because of falling education standards. Students do not know as much as they should or do not know the right things and they are failing to achieve basic skills required to earn a living when they leave school.

As John Nicholas, Deputy Provincial Administrator of Morobe said, “They were smacked like animals just to put more knowledge into their heads if they [were] slow in learning.”

Students who are not serious in their schoolwork should be punished so they can be pushed in the right direction. Most successful people today who had a taste of corporal punishment in the past now appreciate it.

Another reason why corporal punishment should be reinstated is because the school curriculum is likely to provoke conflict and lead to personality problems. The content of education is not natural to our society.

Non-core subject such as agriculture, home economics and practical skills should be given more emphasis and, if students are not serious, then smack them so they see the real importance.

As Baine (2001) stated: “The number of students entering tertiary institution is less compared to the number of drop outs after secondary.”

Due to this, there is an increase in criminal activity in the country because young people do not know what to do with their life. They have been fed with garbage from this Western education system and lack skills, knowledge and attitudes to meet their real needs.

It is for this reason that students from Western countries such as Australia are more advanced compared to PNG. Corporal punishment should be re-introduced to prepare our children for the real situation in the future.

Although it is clear that the corporal punishment should be re-introduced, there are some areas where it is not necessary; in dealing with human rights, for instance.

The solution to this is to organise effective disciplinary committees in schools, approved by the government, to deal with specific students so they can see the importance of having a good education.


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Lindsay F Bond

Two weeks ago in Oro Province, very pleasing to see continuing, a tradition of young students bringing vegetable food gifts for teachers at a non-main-road primary school. Noticeably too, those gifts mostly came, fetched and carried by female students.

Lani H (email provided)

Here is what so many complainers do not understand.

We are required to get pupils to learn an exact amount and that is hard with 18 plus children with little or no respect in regard to consequences.

Most do not care and we do not always get the home back up that we need.

So before criticising, take a week as a substitute or volunteer at your own school and then look up online what teachers earn. I bet you will hug your teacher, take them a pretty flower or say thank you.

Lahja Wisdon

Yes corporal punishment should be re-introduced in school because leaners are not obeying school rules. So they need a hot corporal punishment.

John Kaupa Kamasua

I think the Education Department has put out a policy to deal with student behaviour ... what is it called Behaviour Management Policy?

Peter Kranz

Agnes - you have an ally here in Australia, Kevin Donnelly, who is currently reviewing the school curriculum for the Abbott government.

"Kevin Donnelly, has told of the “very effective” approach of his former physical education teacher who took misbehaving students aside and dared them to “throw the first punch”.

In a radio interview about behaviour management, Donnelly voiced support for the use of corporal punishment if the school community was in favour of it."


Jimmy Awagl

In Melanesian society with diverse cultures and norms, corporal punishment is best to nurture students in this more hostile environment.

It can foster a fear amongst students to surrender their bad behaviour to learning.

Fear is the beginning of wisdom and understanding and the moral values of a learner.

Our forefathers nurtured our fathers in a cruel manner to impart the best wisdom of manhood and it was suitable for a Melanesian society and environment.

Today PNG is still a Melanesian society, therefore we should execute corporal punishment in PNG schools again.

Peter Kranz

I suggest taking a breath and looking at some of the professional research.


My own view is that introducing institutionalised violence into a community with many other problems with violent behaviour is not a good idea.

Kevin O'Regan

A pat on the back is good for children provided it is given often enough and low enough. My father's saying.

Seriously, the family unit is the catalyst, not the schools. Set the correct example at home and the classroom discipline will follow.

My parents were my mentors and if I got a smack at school, and went home and complained about it, I got another one.

Get the respect back to the family unit. Our parents are our mentors.

Bernard Yegiora

Tanya well said.

The family is the elemental unit. If parents play their part in enforcing discipline at home then it will have an impact.

If the father is a drunk and the mother a gambler, then this will be a challenging situation because the child will be in one word WILD.

Community development and welfare (national body as well as the provincial offices) in theory is suppose to do this job but that is not the case in PNG.

Tanya Zeriga Alone

If parents seriously take their parental roles and duties, there will be no need for corporal punishment in schools.

Instead of addressing a symptom of a broken society at the school level, why not we work with families, address their challenges, give them information on how to become better parents so that they become good role models to their children.

After all, parents have more influence on how a child turns out in the future.

Bernard Yegiora

In light of international and domestic laws on child protection, using corporal punishment is or will to a certain degree be considered as child abuse.

On top of that PNG's department of foreign affairs and most democratic countries preach about promoting human rights in their foreign policy. Such a move suggested by the author is not in the ideological/cultural interest (category of national interest) of the nation.

Better to use a carrot instead of a stick.

Bernard Yegiora

A good debate.

DWU is working on the Bachelor of Primary Education curriculum as we speak. The debate is whether to teach ethics in primary level or not. Hope to read the program specification document in the coming months to see the future of primary education.

I join Bina in calling for creativity from the teachers. We want to progress and not to regress. When one is innovative and creative by using the status quo to their benefit then they can influence behavioural change in students.

Comparing Australia with PNG like what the author did is a bit naive. Sometimes we expect too much from PNG but we have to understand that PNG is a developing country. We are following our own evolutionary path which is very different to Australia and other Western countries. The context in PNG is very different.

Goilala Mero

Nothing to do with re-instating corporal punishment in schools, it's you and the govt who are not doing your best for the kids to archive quality education. Some schools in the country are well disciplined because they don't mark around with kids and schools rules, that's means how effect you deal with discipline in the school. Example catholic schools.
You sound pretty funny when you say "they have been fed with garbage from this Western education system and lack skills, knowledge and attitudes to meet their real needs". Of course one these garbage is corporal punishment yes, it was introduced into school back in the days by westerners, also you can't compare Australia to PNG regarding school quality of course it is western country, if you want to get quality education like australia as you stated the only way is to establish more effective school programs in schools. I am sorry but i had to say this western kids are well manned and discipline 95% better than us.
Thanks and God bless you with your effort and hope to re-introduction of corporal punishment in schools.

Baka Bina

One of the best things in school when I was going during those 'lauto'times was a box of SRA readers. these boxes of self reading and assessment boxes had a tonne of short stories and question and answer sheet where you could do and tick it yourself and then plot the progress on a chart on the classroom wall.
this was the best discipline in school. if the teacher was not around,the class rushed for this box.
There were always things to do in the classroom so there were less fighting in the classroom.
Todays teachers leave the classroom with nothing like that in place. I have asked the missus who is a teacher if she has seen any SRA boxes and she says there is nothing around. She's been a primary school teacher for a long time now.
Students ought to look forward to coming to school. It should not be a monotonous compulsion to stay away from the boredom of the house or the unadventurous village or settlement.
This calls for teachers to be innovative and to do teaching outside of the box. Setting work out on the blackboard and asking children to copy straight into the books will not help in the classroom discipline. it will lead to issues outside of the classroom and onto the streets.
One innovative that is happening now is schools are allowing adults to return to classrooms eg Asaroka in the Eastern highlands. these adults should be immediately be given leadership roles in the classrooms as they come with a yearning to learn. I am told that the one at Asaroka is an ex LLG council president who was frustrated at having others do his work so that now he is doing it tough with four of his children in the school, a couple in the same grade. The student's will learn from his desire to learn. There are other senior citizenry in the school there too.
No, reintroducing corporal punishment wont work, try teacher innovation to motivate students learning. it does not necessarily have to be e-learning only as some schools are now doing.

Philip Fitzpatrick

You're not going far enough Agnes.

Introduce capital punishment into the schools.

That will make the little buggers learn.

Robin Lillicrapp

Reminds us of the Outcome-Based Education controversy fostered by critic Corney Alone.

The systemic failure of years of misapplied unproductive philosophy has created road blocks in the production line.

I think it a further miscalculation to assume corporal punishment will do any more than legitimise the frustrated teacher's attempts to control an unruly and disenfranchised student body.

The country's authoritarian role models; police, are themselves contributors to disorder via their oft reported episodes of cruel and unusual behaviour.

Far better,I believe, to identify and categorise the problem issues and areas with a view to re-establishing remedial procedures designed to foster and promote literacy and numeracy.

Combine those efforts with further increase to economic stimulus in rural areas to inspire hope in the future of local industry or agriculture etc to at least offer the promise of sustenance.

This might be a means of slowing the tendency to migrate to urban fringe settlements that often become ghettos.

Albert Schram

This is a step backward. How is corporal punishment going to be implemented? How is it addressing the underlying issues?

Should we not just start by financing the education system properly? 2% GDP to primary, 2% to secondary, and 2% to tertiary education? Costa Rica, for example, has done this for decades and literacy rates are now close to 100%.

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