Spare the rod and delinquents rule the roost

Going through the Internet the other day, I came across a quote by one famous former principal of a school in poverty-stricken Orange Farm that broke every record of good performance in its heyday.

Going through the Internet the other day, I came across a quote by one famous former principal of a school in poverty-stricken Orange Farm that broke every record of good performance in its heyday.

Then, the teachers did not fear the prospect of being jailed if they dared to touch their pupils in anger. To make the school's life even easier, the parents made it unequivocally clear to the staff that they wanted - even asked - that their children be lashed if they went off the rails.

Even the pupils, through their students' representative council, supported the move, on condition that it did not go overboard.

Asked to comment on the abolition of corporal punishment, the principal told a reporter: "Detention and suspension does not work in our situation."

For heaven's sake, teachers are like parents to their pupils. Surely they will not take out the guillotine for every minor misdemeanour. Sometimes they might do as one principal, Solomon Itholeng, did to this Charlie at primary school.

Charlie-boy, aged nine and the teacher's little pet, got himself into a nasty spot, thanks to greed and a plot that went horribly wrong.

It all started one morning when a boy named Mojalefa complained of a sore tummy. The teacher sent him to the principal, who gave the sick boy one teaspoon of castor oil, two Assorted biscuits, and then sent him home.

Jeepers Creepers.

That, in my little mind, was a helluva package: Two Assorted biscuits and a day of freedom somewhere between school and home. I spent the rest of the day and night hatching my own plan to get the biscuits and the day off.

So the next day, out of the blue, I complained to the teacher about "pain" in my stomach. She eyed me with a wry, knowing smile and sent me to the principal.

Now Sir, the principal, was no nine-year-old's plaything. He read my intentions the minute I mentioned my "pain".

So he fed me two large tablespoons of the puke-inducing stuff. After struggling to swallow it, I waited expectantly for my reward, but Sir said nothing. My eyes darted from his biscuits to him and back.

"Go back to class my boy," he said, smiling sadistically.

I thought I had not heard him correctly.

"But ." I stuttered.

"But what?" Sir demanded.

No biscuits? No day off?

Tears began to fill my eyes, but I could not bring myself to lay down my demands. Sick boys deserved biscuits and time off after taking one teaspoon - not two tablespoons - of castor oil.

"Back to class my boy," he ordered with finality in his tone, making it clear that the circus was over.

I went back to class to face a highly amused teacher. When she saw my face, she could not contain herself and burst out giggling.

The humiliation was worse than corporal punishment. For months after that I thought I hated Sir.

Years later I realised what a wonderful, loving and wise "parent" he was, not only to me, but to many other delinquent boys in his charge.

And, if he had caned me for my silly plot, my dad would just have doubled the dose if he had got to know about it.

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