Recommendation on Regulation of Disciplinary Punishment of School Students
On November 17, 2017, the Public Defender of Georgia addressed the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia with a recommendation concerning the regulation of the rule of temporary dismissal of students from school as a disciplinary punishment.
The monitoring conducted by the Public Defender's Office in general educational institutions showed that during the imposition of the disciplinary penalty, nobody works with students and explains to what is the negative side of their behavior, while in case of temporary dismissal, the right to education is violated. The existing form of the disciplinary sanction creates the danger of violation of the child’s right to education and questions the expediency of the use of disciplinary sanction.
According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, in the academic year of 2016-2017, disciplinary penalties were applied in 1140 cases throughout Georgia. 18 out of them were applied against students of primary grades, including first graders.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the right of the child to be education, while the States Parties are obliged to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity.
According to the Law of Georgia on General Education, protection of discipline should be based on the respect for the freedom and dignity of students and teachers, while the disciplinary penalty shall be reasonable, grounded and proportionate. The law also defines the school's obligation to have students under its protection and ensure that the disciplinary penalty does not hamper their learning process.
Despite the fact that the internal regulations of the inspected public schools mainly indicate the provisions of the Law of Georgia on General Education, the documents do not specify what kind of measures should be taken by school in order to ensure that students’ learning process is not hampered due to being absent for up to 5 days or for 5-10 days. There is no indication of how and in what form the school should take care of school students in case of their dismissal from school.
It is important that the normative act does not regulate the disciplinary proceedings, which would ensure higher standards of the protection of child’s rights in disciplinary proceedings.
Due to all the abovementioned, the Public Defender considers that dismissal of students from school is not fully regulated at the legislative level and generates the risk of violation of the child’s right to education. The Public Defender considers that the purpose of disciplinary responsibility should be upbringing and education, which should be done in such a way that the child is given the opportunity to realize the negative consequences of his/her actions. The educational institution should play the leading role in this process.
The Public Defender addresses the Minister of Education and Science with a recommendation to draft relevant amendments in order to define the preconditions for temporary dismissal of students from school as a disciplinary penalty and specify the role of public schools in this process so that the child's right to education is protected; consequently, the disciplinary sanction should be not punitive, but result-oriented; the rule of disciplinary proceedings should be developed at the normative level, which would ensure higher standards and guarantees for the protection of child’s rights in disciplinary proceedings.