The story of one Suliat Abdulganiyu, a 14-year-old girl, who was allegedly brutalised by a teacher early this year went viral on the internet.
The Junior Secondary School 2 student of Sheikh Abdulkadir Secondary school, Ilorin, Kwara State was said to have been hospitalised following the grievious physical assault.
The teenage girl, who was punished for non payment of school fees reportedly had her tibia shift from the fibula, before getting infected and resulting to Osteomyelitis (a form of bone infection). Her femur was said to have cracked and made the bone vulnerable to infection. She was later said to have undergone surgery, sequestrectomy.
Just last week, a schoolboy, Yisa Suleiman suffered similar fate for alleged improper dressing. The Senior Secondary School 2 student of Government Day Secondary School (GDSS), Odo-Okun, Ilorin was allegedly inflicted with razor blade injuries, by one of his teachers simply identified as Mr Adeyemi.
Stories of teachers’ brutality abound only that only a few get to be reported by the media. There have been several cases of corporal punishment meted out to students which went awry. This is fast becoming a recurring decimal in public schools in Kwara State and stakeholders seem to be turning blind eye to the ugly trend. Extreme punishment is common in schools because many are wont to believe that it is the best way to discipline a child considered to be hardened. Most schools are of the view that a child has to be ‘battered’ as a way of moulding him /her into a fine character, hence the corporal punishment. Even some parents believe that when the rod is spared the child becomes spoilt. Agreed, in this part of the world, discipline has become culture but it has also been abused. It is a societal problem that is deep rooted as parents too take extreme measures as punishment for children who erred. It is worthy of note that cases of teachers’ brutality are more common in public schools than private schools. Corporal or criminal punishment has been described as a form of bullying by teachers because aside the physical pains inflicted on the affected student, there is also the adverse psychological impact thus killing the cognitive development of the child. Some children live with the physical and/or psychological scar for a very long time. The effects of such violence on children include withdrawal symptoms and low self -esteem. Teacher brutality may be a reason for the transfer of bullying and aggression by the affected student(s) to their colleagues, thereby leading to a vicious cycle of violence in schools. Children live with impressions, so they must not be given negative impressions about school and life.
Nonetheless, teachers need to find the right balance in enforcing discipline on children . This is significant in this clime, where many believe that the best way to discipline a child is mainly through physical punishment.
It is pertinent to note that the fundamental rights of children are violated by corporal punishment. The law is very clear about that , and at a point it becomes a crime. It is for this reason that the state government must fully implement and ensure enforcement of the The Child Rights Acts. Unfortunately, most parents and teachers are not aware that children have rights. Therefore, there is also the need to educate the public on this. The Child Rights Act clearly forbids battery , physical assault and abuse in any form.
The culture of impunity , especially in public schools where teachers feel they can get away with anything , mainly because parents have little or no awareness on their children’s right must stop. There is also an urgent need for policies to outlaw corporal punishment and schools must devise other corrective punitive measures.
Children are expected to be protected from any form of violence, especially by their teachers, who are supposed to contribute to shaping their character. This is because the occupy strategic positions in the training of children because they spend more quality time with them more than their parents.
Even if teachers have to use the cane it must be with moderation. Teachers and Parents have to counsel and correct the students and the most effective means or channel is to show love to children and not brutality . Children should not be harmed for discipline sake. When a punishment does not translate to a change in behaviour of the affected student then the essence is defeated. Punishments are meant to correct and not harden the child. Counseling should replace excessive use of cane in schools. Importantly, only teachers who are emotionally and psychologically balance should be given the responsibility of handling disciplinary issues in schools. On their parts, parents must live up to their responsibilities by ensuring that proper home training is inculcated right from infancy to lessen the burden of discipline on teachers.
However, one must commend the state Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Bilikisu Oniyangi for addressing the case of Yisa promptly. The affected teacher and school principal were immediately issued queries. She also assured that they would be sanctioned according to civil service rule. This it is believed will serve as deterrent to others and bring sanity to schools in the state. The commissioner must be commended for placing value on dignity of students by this action.