Samoa divided over ban on corporal punishment in schools
A leading Samoan education official says the country is divided over a new law banning corporal punishment in schools.
Teachers can now face hefty fines or imprisonment if they physically punish pupils.
The Chief Executive of Samoa's Education Ministry, Matafeo Falana'ipupu Tanielu Aiafi, says schools have changed their approach to discipline accordingly.
But he told Pacific Beat the legislation has generated heated debate in the broader community.
"Some parents say we should still smack children in the traditional way that we were in school in the past," he said.
"Some parents are now saying that that's not on - we should abide by the law that we shouldn't smack children in school."
Mr Aiafi says the penalties are quite severe.
"It ranges from monetary fines up to imprisonment, so the fines are very severe and we are very serious that we do not allow anymore type of corporal punishments in schools," he said.
"It really depends on the seriousness of the case, because we do investigate when a case is lodged with us and at the same time, parents can also lodge their cases with the police.
"So it really depends on the severity of the case and also the evidence from the investigations."
Mr Aiafi says schools have changed their approach to discipline accordingly, but the legislation doesn't give teachers the same protection against physical harm.
"Last week we had a student at a secondary school hit a teacher, and in retaliation another teacher came and helped," he said.
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