Would it be out of place to state that some teachers behave as if they are sent from hell to wreak havoc in the lives of the children entrusted in their care and as such, government should establish laws on the dos and don’ts of discipline in our schools? KUNI TYESSI, in this report takes a look at the issue of corporal punishment in Nigeria’s educational system.
Schools are social and sometimes also religious institutions of learning, where academic, moral and social lessons are taught and imparted. Such lessons are necessary and sometimes mandatory, especially as formal education is an open door to all of life’s verisimilitudes.
Schools cannot function without teachers, just as farmlands are of no use without the farmer and his tools. But just what sort of teachers do proprietors of schools employ these days? It was in the news of recent that a teacher in Edo State beat up a pupil with a bunch of broomsticks, simply because she failed arithmetic. As if that was not enough, she also accused her of being a witch and responsible for all the problems of the school and in the life of the teacher. In the process of the flogging, which reports say started with a cane and was continued with broomsticks, the right eye of the girl was damaged and medical experts in the country have said it is beyond repair. The minor, through her family, is demanding for compensation of N100 million.
Teachers used to be role models for children, but this seems not to be the case anymore. One wonders what offence could have warranted a teacher’s beating up a girl to the extent of causing irreparable damage to her eye.
An educationist with the Nasarawa State government, who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that the rules of education concerning discipline state that students must be corrected in love and understanding. He revealed that punishment of any kind must be documented in a punishment register, as even the administration of discipline must be done with some form of order. But as it is, it seems many educationists forget the rules as soon as they start teaching.
He further said that by the ethics of the profession, teachers are not permitted to discipline students. Only the principal or head teacher has the right to do so and whenever punishment is to be administered, especially if a cane is to be used, the hand of the principal or head teacher must not be raised beyond a certain height in doing so.
Largely, he was of the opinion that counselling, most of the time, provides and yields better results than corporal punishment, which, if not properly administered, could have negative effects on the psyche of the student being punished and that would invariably affect the academic performance of the student.
With all of the advocacy for the observance of child rights and so on, there are no clear-cut laws on the boundaries of disciplinary measures to be employed by teachers in schools and penalties when it goes overboard.
The lawyer representing the student has taken the case to the Edo State government with the claim that the act happened in a government school and as such, the state government should take responsibility.