|dc.description.abstract||This thesis examines the impact of the abolition of corporal punishment on boy behaviour in a
rural IsiZulu-medium school in Harding, Kwazulu-Natal. The school is made up of black
learners and educators.
As far back as we can remember, corporal punishment has been part of a teacher's function.
When corporal punishment was abolished by the South African Act of l996, many teachers were
aggrieved, as they believed that corporal punishment was the only answer to disciplinary
problems. Many educators still believe that corporal punishment should be used to make learners
respect them and curb deviant behaviour.
Altematives to corporal punishment have been provided as a way of bringing change to schools'
disciplinary practices. These alternatives to corporal punishment haven't been popular with
parents, educators and learners. There is a call for the restoration of corporal punishment in spite
of the negative impact such punishment has on a learner. The South African Government has
made it illegal to use corporal punishment as a way of addressing or instilling change.
This study examines the effects of the abolition of corporal punishment, and more specifically,
looks at whether the abolition has had a positive effect on school discipline, boys' behaviour and,
more broadly, on gender relations.
Using questionnaires and interviews posed to both educators and learners, the research suggests
that boy's behaviour is shaped and influenced to a large extent by the following factors:
(a) Home back ground,
(b) The society/environment,
(c) The history of the education system,
(d) School practices and discipline policies and
(e) Hegemonic masculinities.
The type of punishment that is used also contributes towards shaping boys behaviour. The study
finds that the abolition of corporal punishment has had both a positive and a negative impacts
on schools' discipline and boy behaviour. The study shows that one of the intended consequences
of the abolition of corporal punishment (the improvement of the teacher learner environment)
has not been achieved and in fact, may have become worse as a result of the abolition of corporal
Leamers are more undisciplined now than before. Educators fail to exert authority over learners
as boys have as increased disregard for the rights of others. There is a high frequency of late
comers and the school is functioning poorly. Educators feel that they lack the authority to
discipline leamers as they are not allowed to use corporal punishment. Academic performance
is low in both internal (grade 8-11) and external (grade 12) classes. There is increased graffiti and
vandalism. Learners fail to attend studies and extra lessons and during breaks they are very noisy.
Most learners experience difficulty using English as the medium of learning and teaching.
Learners seem to have no interest in academic work although the majority of learners participate
in extra mural activities.
A few of the learners and educators have responded positively to the abolition of corporal
punishment. Some of the educators have changed their disciplinary methods and practices. They
have resorted to alternative methods of punishment like detention, discussions and getting
leamers to perform menial tasks. The use of non violent methods of punishment have yielded a
slight change in boy learners. Some of the boys seem to be obedient, they conform to school rules
and are responsible and committed to their work. Some learners, who displayed violent behaviour
before, have become passive and display acceptable behaviour. This study finds a thin but steady
line of change in boys' behaviour and in gender relations in the school.
The abolition of corporal punishment appears to create democratic spaces which allow new
perceptions and practices of discipline to emerge and these assist in the emergence of new