Campaign against corporal punishment

Kathmandu, November 21:

The Government of Nepal, UNICEF, Save the Children and Plan Nepal have initiated ‘Learn Without Fear’, an advocacy campaign for three years to end corporal punishment and

promote learning with dignity at schools.

The campaign has been initiated to prevent violence against children in schools, ranging from sexual abuse, neglect, verbal/emotional abuse, bullying, peer to peer violence and harassment on the journey to and from school. The campaign starts from November, 2008 and lasts tiill 2011.

Using sticks to beat children, keeping children out of class, squeezing a pen/pencil between fingers, pinching, kicking and threatening are some of the punishments children have to endure in Nepal.

“The children could develop intellectually only if they get a free environment for learning. Punishment is one of the major reasons for children dropping out. Punishment could lead to psychological problems, trauma and disability in the children.” Said Donal Kaene, Country Director of Plan Nepal.

The campaign will be implemented from the resource centre level, regional and district levels and national level, while the government legislature would prevent violence with legalities by the end of 2011.

Jillan Melsop, Representative, UNICEF Nepal, said, “Including the provision of prohibiting corporal punishment in the new constitution will ensure a friendly learning environment.”

Renu Yadav, Minister for Education, ensured the inclusion of a provision of prohibiting the corporal punishment in the new constitution.

She said, “We are starting the campaign for training the teachers in order to make them aware of the negative impact of punishment on children.” “The guardians have equal responsibility in prohibiting punishment in the school,” she added.

Nakul Baniya from Ministry of Education said the main reason for inducing corporal punishment is not for submitting homework, making noise in the class, sleeping and misconduct, fighting with others and answering back to teachers in the class.

Policy reform and enforcement, teacher training curriculum development, sensitisation against domestic violence are some of the ways for minimising the problem. He further said that there were some policies intended to address these problems but they were not adequate for solving the problem.