Sindh education dept notifies corporal punishment rules

Development comes five years after law penalising mistreatment of children in schools was passed


Hafeez Tunio July 27, 2021

KARACHI:

After a delay of five years, the Sindh education and literacy department finally notified rules of implementation for the Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Act 2016 on Monday.

The legislation passed by the provincial assembly, after prolonged efforts by the civil society, has yet been awaiting implementation due to the Sindh government’s failure to formulate its rules.

Without the rules the law, passed with aim to curb the widespread menace of corporal punishment, was a toothless one and existed merely on paper. It could not be used to regulate such instances in schools, seminaries or other educational institutions.

The law had promised to protect children from such mistreatment. According to the newly drafted rules, every educational institution is bound to ensure the protection and safety of its students and to take all possible measures to prevent corporal punishment, including caning or flogging, and abuse.

Any person who inflicts a serious injury on any child shall be punished and booked under Sections 334 and 336 of the Pakistan Penal Code, according to the law.

"Every institute shall form one or more child protection committees comprising the head of the institute, parents or guardian of the child enrolled at the institute and representatives of social welfare or local government departments," state the rules. They further specify that the committees will receive, record and investigate all complaints regarding allegations or suspicions that a child has been subjected to corporal, physical punishment or abuse.

Read More: Sindh education dept passes 7,000 students

Moreover, the rules state that under the law the committee will also provide due emotional, physiological, physical and medical support required by the child.

Appreciating that the rules of implementation have been formed, National Commission on the Rights of Child Sindh member, Iqbal Detho, said that incidents of corporal punishment contribute to children dropping out of school and Sindh has the second highest school drop out rate in the country.

Detho, who helped draft these rules along with the Sindh education department added that child protection committees need to be formed without delays to enhance the capacity of government officials to redress grievances. Through these rules a mechanism to enforce the law has been developed, he said, adding that these committees would work at the institutional level. “We already have district level committees under the child protection authority law.”

The rules specify that the committees will also maintain a registry of names and phone numbers of stakeholder departments such as labour, education, social welfare, child protection officers, the police and other relevant contacts for the handling of corporal punishment cases. All inquiries will be confidential and maintain the integrity of the process, state the rules.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, the education department’s spokesperson said the rules were drafted after several consultations with stakeholders. “We have finalised the rules with the help of the law department, child right activists and other civil society members.”

The first priority will be to form committees at the educational institute level and all district officers have been directed to ensure this in their respective areas, said the spokesperson.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2021.

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