Can Sri Lankan Teachers Afford to Spare the Rod?: Teacher Attitudes Towards Corporal Punishment in School

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: Booth 46
Oral Presentation
Iresha LAKSHMAN , Department of Sociology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Krishan CHINTHAKA , Freelance Researcher, Sri Lanka
The main objective of the study is to understand the attitudes held by teachers in the Government schools in Sri Lanka regarding the administration of Corporal Punishment (CP) in school and to examine the justifications they have for resorting to CP. The study is a response to a concern raised by the authors in 2012 about the need for more in-depth exploration on the topic.

The purposive sample of teachers who participated in the study was from four Government schools in Colombo. One school was a boys’ school while the remaining three were coeducational schools. 28 teachers were chosen for study based on their gender and years of experience in the teaching profession. Data was gathered through in-depth interviews with the teachers.

It was found that a majority of teachers in the sample have resorted to some form of CP at some point in their career as teachers. Given the teaching-learning culture teachers have been exposed to as children and the authority traditionally attributed to teachers in Sri Lanka, they were of the opinion that CP can have positive impacts on children and their future success. Teachers did not seem hostile to the idea of CP per se but the “form” and “severity” of CP administered on students. Many were of the opinion that CP was “a fine means of disciplining students” as long as it is administered with the ‘correct’ intent of guiding students. They also thought that CP becomes an “issue” only when teachers use it in brutal/inhuman manner with vindictive intents and as a means of stress release.

High levels of work related stress and weaknesses in the mechanism of appointing individuals to the teaching profession were highlighted as resulting in situations of “brutal/ inhuman beating” in schools. These views expressed by teachers raise important policy implications.