ISLAMABAD: Rules in accordance with the “Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Act, 2021” have been launched for the implementation of the law that aimed to put an end to corporal punishment at schools and foster a culture of non-violence.
The said act was passed in 2021; however, rules were notified a couple of months ago and they were finally launched on Thursday. Under the rules, corporal punishment is banned not only in both public and private schools but religious seminaries and in other educational institutions as well.
The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Ministry of Law and Justice, Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights, and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Pakistan came together for the launch of the “Islamabad Capital Territory Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Rules, 2022” at the Islamabad Model College for Girls in F-10/2.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Education Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain stressed the importance of these rules in upholding children’s rights and fostering a culture of non-violence.
Minister hopes the law will curtailviolence in schools
“Let us work together to implement these rules effectively and create an environment where every child feels safe and nurtured.” He hoped that these rules would curtail violence in schools. The minister also committed to writing to all provincial education ministries to follow suit.
Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar congratulated the stakeholders on getting the corporal punishment rules launched. He underscored that “morals and values cannot be imparted through coercion or punishment” and remarked that this was a step in the right direction. “The implementation of these rules from today shall serve as the building block in achieving our greater vision aimed at the well-being of our children – the ultimate future of Pakistan.”
Convener of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights and Parliamentary Secretary Law and Justice, Mehnaz Akber Aziz, who was also the mover of the bill, outlined the significance of the rules and their transformative impact on the lives of children.
“The launch of the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Rules is a testament to our commitment to ensuring children’s well-being and upholding their rights. These rules will provide clear guidelines and enforce strict measures to eradicate corporal punishment from educational institutions and child-related settings throughout Islamabad. I hope this will also incentivise the currently 2.4 million out-of-school children to head to schools,” she added.
She said that the scope of the legislation covered public and private educational institutions, orphanages, juvenile justice systems, and formal and informal education institutes, with the education ministry being the overseer of its implementation.
UNICEF Representative Abdullah A. Fadil said: “Corporal punishment can inflict immediate pain and suffering, and sadly may also cause irrevocable damage that can last a lifetime. We need to act now and put all our weight behind this act so that all children in Pakistan are able to learn and grow in a safe environment and are protected in a society which respects and upholds their rights and dignity.”
Shehzad Roy, head of Zindagi Trust reaffirmed his commitment to a countrywide campaign to raise awareness on the matter and stressed the need to change the attitude of parents and teachers.
After speeches, heads of various education departments, heads of public and private schools, madrassas, and orphanages among others pledged to implement these rules in their institutions in letter and spirit.
Law against corporal punishment
Under the said Act of 2021, teachers found involved in corporal punishment could face minor and major penalties, including compulsory retirement and dismissal from service. The minor penalties included censuring, withholding for a specific period promotion or increment or financial advancement in accordance with the rules or orders pertaining to the service or post. A bar on promotion and recovery from pay also falls in the category of minor penalties. Under major penalties, a teacher found guilty could face demotion to a lower post or time scale, compulsory retirement, removal and dismissal from service.
According to the law, “The child has the right to be shown respect for his personality and individuality and shall not be made subject to corporal punishment or any other humiliating or degrading treatment.”
While explaining corporal or physical punishment, the law stated: “Any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort however light it may be which may involve hitting (smacking, slapping, spanking) a child with the hand or with an implement (a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc). Also included are kicking, shaking or throwing a child, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears. Forcing a child to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion, for example, washing a child’s mouth out with soap or forcing him to swallow hot species, including mental abuse.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2023