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Sierra Leone has taken a significant step forward in safeguarding the rights of children by officially prohibiting corporal punishment in schools. In April of 2023, the enactment of the Basic and Senior Secondary Education Act, 2023, solidified this prohibition, marking a clear stance against the use of physical discipline on students.
Section 72 (1) of the Basic and Senior Secondary Education Act, 2023 articulates this stance: "Corporal punishment and any form of punitive measures that cause or instill reasonable apprehension of physical pain in a student, whether administered or threatened for the purpose of control or dominance, are strictly prohibited."
The legislation extends its reach to encompass not only school staff and educators but also any individuals, including relatives of students, from administering or even threatening corporal punishment on school premises (section 72 (2) (3)). Moreover, the new Act takes a progressive approach by promoting the utilization of "alternative disciplinary methods that emphasize positive approaches" for the holistic development of children (section 72 (4)).
This significant legal stride positions Sierra Leone as the 136th nation globally to legally ensure that children are shielded from corporal punishment within educational institutions. It is worth noting that in 2019, Sierra Leone endorsed the #SafetoLearn Call to Action, a commitment aimed at eradicating violence in and around educational settings through strategic policy and legislative measures.
It's important to recognize that while corporal punishment is now unequivocally prohibited in schools, it remains permissible within familial, alternative care, and daycare contexts. The continued presence of the concepts of "reasonable" and "justifiable" corrective actions for children in the Child Rights Act of 2007 has preserved this allowance.
Furthermore, the Basic and Senior Secondary Education Act encompasses more than the corporal punishment prohibition; it also explicitly condemns any form of exploitation or mistreatment of students, while also introducing safeguards for young mothers. For a more comprehensive understanding of the Act's supplementary provisions, further details can be explored here
To delve deeper into this development, additional insights can be found in our country report on Sierra Leone. Find out more in our country report for Sierra Leone
For a broader perspective on global advancements toward universally abolishing corporal punishment, the elimination of such practices within educational settings, and an in-depth examination of the effort to end corporal punishment in schools, read our partner's newly published report which offers a wealth of information. Learn more about:
Prohibition and elimination of corporal punishment in school settings.
Read our new report on ending corporal punishment in schools.