Mrs Patricia Brago Gyamfi, Eastern Regional Girls Education Officer, has announced that the Ghana Education Service (GES) has introduced a “Safe Schools” concept across public and private schools in Koforidua to check corporal punishment.
The concept, which seeks to sensitize teachers on the negative effects of caning, would educate teachers and students on the need to desist from bullying, sexual harassment and verbal abuse of students.
She announced this at a Regional consultation Forum for the compilation of Ghana’s report on the Convention on the Rights of Children to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, organized by the Department of Children under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in Koforidua.
Mrs Gyamfi said GES did not accept caning and all forms of bullying and mentioned sweeping and weeding of compounds and verbal assaults as some of the punishments that would not be taken kindly from any teacher.
The forum was to inform stakeholders about the report and take inputs from them.
The stakeholders, including children, were drawn from government institutions that implement child welfare policies, non-governmental organisations focused on children, opinion and traditional leaders.
Mrs Florence Ayisi Quartey, the Acting Director of the Department of Children, speaking at the opening ceremony, said child rights and protection was a responsibility of parents and guardians and the state and added that the report would further strengthen the welfare of the Ghanaian child.
She explained that the scripture “spare the rod and spoil the child” which was often used in defence of abusing children was a wrong premise, adding that there was a difference between correction and punishment.
She observed that the child rights welfare was not anything foreign because, in formulating the laws to safeguard the interest of children, “our societal values and norms, were factored into it to ensure that we all, as a people can identify with the provisions.”
Dr Sylvester Kyei-Gyamfi, Head of Research and Advocacy, Department of Children, said the rights of children did not give total independence to children to do what they wanted, but it was to check the excesses of child abuse on the part of parents, society and the state in general and to enjoin children to submit to guidance and discipline.
He said the first step to protecting the child was to consider the interests of the child and urged, both in schools and at home, to stop bullying children and learn to guide and supervise them in the right direction for a better future.
In a presentation, some of the children appealed to the Ministry to make it a law for parents to listen to them, especially when making decisions that affected them.
They cited the selection of schools and programmes where parents often go against their choices.