UFH's Dr Kepe heads to Vietnam to collect data for his study on corporal punishment

Read time: 3 mins

Dr Mzukisi Howard Kepe, a devoted scholar at the UFH Faculty of Education will be travelling to Vietnam in September where he will be visiting three universities to collect data for his research on corporal punishment.

Dr Kepe will be a Visiting Scholar at the Ton Duc Thang University in Ho Chi Minh City, Tan Tao University in Long An Province and Van Lang University in Ho Chi Minh City.

At the core of his research is to draw comparisons between South Africa and Vietnam in regard to corporal punishment. Also, to investigate the drivers of violence in the two nations, which he believes may help discover factors at the structural and institutional levels that create the conditions for violence to occur.

Though abolished in terms of the South African Schools Act in 1996, incidents involving the physical abuse of learners by educators at schools in South Africa remain prevalent. According to Statistics South Africa (2020), in the General Household Survey, 2019, 6.8% of pupils nationally were subjected to corporal punishment in schools in 2019. This translates to at least one million who experienced corporal punishment in the 2019 academic year.

As in South Africa, in Vietnam, corporal punishment in school has been prohibited by the Law on Education since 2005, nevertheless, it continues to be practiced. A 2015 study by UNICEF revealed that over half of Vietnamese students dislike school due to violence, including physical and verbal abuse by teachers and peers. A quick U-Report survey on the theme of corporal punishment by teachers and other adults in school revealed that 18% reported having experienced this form of discipline more than once, while 37% of students polled say they have witnessed it.

Dr Kepe says he chose Vietnam due to similarities in the historical context of the two countries. “My choice of Vietnam is informed specifically by our similarities in colonial landmarks and violent history. While my research project is in the local South African context, it is underpinned by a global theoretical framework that espouses the notion of ‘transcultural translatability’, which is a rationale for the study.”

“For this reason, the study attempts to seek international solutions concerning the abolition of corporal punishment in South Africa’s schools and elsewhere,” he explains.

He further states the that study is an attempt to contribute to a model of understanding violence that addresses a child’s agency – while also acknowledging the dovetailing structural and institutional factors that shape children’s changing social worlds.

“Through this study, I intend to set a new standard for how evidence base data can be used to confront violence against children. This in a way, is a milestone to building better violence prevention and response interventions for millions of South African and Vietnamese children and for them to enjoy the right to a violence-free life, like their peers around the world.”