Thailand Bans the Cane at Schools

Associated Press, 9/13/2000 04:49

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) Thailand is banning caning of students, a form of punishment long favored by teachers in Thai schools, officials said Wednesday.

Education Minister Somsak Prisnanantakul said the ban will take effect Nov. 1. He said he hopes it will put an end to what he called was ''inhumane physical punishment'' of students by teachers.

''If the teachers don't stick to the rule they could face punishment themselves. Teachers are supposed to be thoughtful, patient and caring,'' he said. He did not elaborate on the possible punishments for teachers.

Using a bamboo cane or ruler, Thai teachers commonly administer a thrashing to the hand or backside for bad behavior. Such punishment is also used in colleges and universities.

The harsh treatment has drawn criticism from child rights groups in recent years, but there has not been widespread protest here. That could be because Thailand's traditional Buddhist society places heavy emphasis on respecting elders and teachers and not disputing their word.

The Nation newspaper said the new regulations will require teachers to reprimand students, assign them extracurricular activities or place them on probation instead of beating them. College and university students will be subject to reprimands, activity assignments, probation, suspension and expulsion.

The ban drew a mixed response from teachers and parents.

Wanpen Intra, director of the Wat Makutkasattiyaram school in Bangkok, cautioned that many teachers are opposed to the ban, believing they will lose students' respect, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported Wednesday.

Theerayuth Jirosmontrin, a parent, agreed. He said it is necessary for teachers to impose harsh punishment to remind students of their mistakes and that a failure to do so would only make them more aggressive.

But another parent, Nakhon Ong-artsamart, 46, supported the change. He said caning is a form of violence that encourages a sense of hatred in students, the Post reported.