Get­ting a lash­ing taught me dis­ci­pline

While re­spect­ing the hu­man rights of chil­dren, this writer found cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment at her school taught her dis­ci­pline

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - Si­waphiwe My­ataza My­ataza is a po­lit­i­cal science grad­u­ate from the Uni­ver­sity of the West­ern Cape and a con­tent de­vel­oper at the Me­dia and Writ­ers Firm

In the morn­ing, you would wake up, bath, dress, eat your break­fast and leave early be­cause you didn’t want by any chance for Mrs Hardy to close the school gate while you were out­side school premises. If you were un­lucky to find your­self out­side by the time the school started, you knew ex­actly what to ex­pect. Col­lect pa­pers in the school yard or plough the garden, it was your choice to make. But be­fore you chose, at least two lashes had to visit your tiny hand. That made pupils, in­clud­ing my­self, trans­form and be dis­ci­plined chil­dren.

AT ZIMELE Se­nior Sec­ondary School in Ikhwezi town­ship in Mthatha, we all knew and re­spected the rules of the schools. Not that we had any choice be­cause our strong, beau­ti­ful and dis­ci­plined prin­ci­pal Mrs Hardy never cre­ated a room for clowns.

You ei­ther be­haved or you would find your­self com­manded to go and get your own stick from the near­est tree, a stick that would harshly visit your tiny hands.

From be­ing late at school, not do­ing home­work, at­tain­ing 49 out of 50 in a test, to bul­ly­ing, that didn’t ex­ist on Hardy’s premises.

Yes, at­tain­ing 49 out of 50 marks qual­i­fied you for a lash­ing.

Mr Da­mane, my Xhosa and maths teacher, would al­ways em­pha­sise that get­ting less than the to­tal marks is an in­sult to him be­cause he stood in front of us, ex­plained the work and we nod­ded to no­tify we un­der­stood. But in a test, we scored the op­po­site. For that you would get a hid­ing.

We never felt abused, we never felt unloved and we never felt re­jected. It was hurt­ing but it was fun be­cause some in my class would jump and roam the en­tire class­room when it was their turn to get lashes. That made us laugh at each other but we laughed at each other’s fears with love.

Such in­stances helped us grow and our learn­ing process im­proved daily be­cause we never wanted to dis­ap­point our par­ents, but over­all a beat­ing was some­thing we avoided at all times.

For me, that was dis­ci­pline. In the morn­ing you would wake up, bath, dress, eat your break­fast and leave early be­cause you didn’t want by any chance for Mrs Hardy to close the school gate while you were out­side the premises.

If you were un­lucky to find your­self out­side by the time school started, you knew ex­actly what to ex­pect. Col­lect pa­pers in the school yard or plough the garden, it was your choice to make. But be­fore you chose, at least two lashes had to visit your lit­tle hand. That made pupils, in­clud­ing my­self, trans­form and be­come dis­ci­plined chil­dren.

Do you know what a black­board wiper is? That I re­spect. When it was rain­ing and you couldn’t go out­side to get a stick that was meant to dis­ci­pline you – a black­board wiper did the job.

You just had to put your fin­gers to­gether and por­tray a lit­tle moun­tain, then the wiper would beat you on the tips of your fin­gers al­most close to your nails. That re­ally hurt, but we never felt a need to hold any grudge to­wards the teacher be­cause there was a spirit that al­ways re­vealed to us that we were be­ing re­formed into some­thing great.

We were be­ing dis­ci­plined and there was never a time where we wres­tled with a teacher be­cause teachers only used sticks to beat our hands, not fists, smack­ing or any vi­o­lent ges­tures to­wards us. That never hap­pened to us.

The truth is, we were re­ally be­ing en­hanced. To­day, Zimele Se­nior Sec­ondary School has a fat rep­u­ta­tion in the East­ern Cape.

Just to brag, our own Nkosi­nathi In­no­cent Maphumulo (aka Black Cof­fee), is a prod­uct of Zimele. And, of course, other dis­ci­plined in­di­vid­u­als like my­self, we were all pro­duced at Zimele.

What they call cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment en­hanced our learn­ing and helped us re­veal the best ver­sions of our­selves.

But that was then; times have changed.

Nowa­days, pupils have rights more than re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

But for us, a teacher would beat you and tell you that at school you are a child and a teacher is your par­ent. It worked for us mainly be­cause we con­cen­trated more on our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and so we could there­fore bal­ance what is ex­pected from us as pupils with the man­date of our school.

I am, how­ever, not against chil­dren’s rights in South Africa but I am just paint­ing a pic­ture of my school­ing path back at Zimele.

I fully re­spect Sec­tion 28 in the con­sti­tu­tion of South Africa, which is devoted to chil­dren and out­lines the rights that they are en­ti­tled to. The sec­tion states that every child has the right not to be re­quired or per­mit­ted to per­form work or pro­vide ser­vices that place at risk the child’s well-be­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, phys­i­cal or men­tal health or spir­i­tual, moral or so­cial de­vel­op­ment.

Sec­tion 28 con­tin­ues to state that a child has the right to fam­ily care or parental care and has a right to be pro­tected from mal­treat­ment, ne­glect, abuse or degra­da­tion.

Per­son­ally, I ac­knowl­edge all these rights but I am a bit un­com­fort­able be­cause as a child I never felt en­ti­tled to them – maybe I was too child­ish.

I was a child – my job was to go to school, get good marks, eat, play, shop for Christ­mas and spend time with my fam­ily, that was my child­hood.

I re­ally never had time to mon­i­tor the abuse go­ing on at my school – if by any chance it ex­isted.

Per­haps I was abused but be­cause of the norms that had flooded my school en­vi­ron­ment I was blinded. I se­ri­ously wouldn’t know, but be­ing pun­ished when I did wrong never felt like abuse.

Ei­ther way, I am happy that I went through ev­ery­thing I ex­pe­ri­enced at Zimele – I am a bet­ter child be­cause of all the dis­ci­pline that was in­stilled in me by the teachers and, of course, work­ing with my par­ents.

Re­cent images of a teacher hit­ting a pupil in class were cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia, bring­ing cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment into the spot­light.

The writer says as pupils they were be­ing ‘dis­ci­plined and there was never a time where we wres­tled with a teacher be­cause teachers only used sticks to beat our hands, not fists, smack­ing or any vi­o­lent ges­tures to­wards us’.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.