February 24, 2017: A schoolteacher who beat a pupil with a steel scale has been asked to give her month’s salary as compensation to the child, to avoid being sacked, police arrest, and other disciplinary measures taken against her.
After deliberating on a corporal punishment complaint filed by the parents of the child, the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CCPCR) directed Adarsh Public School to take disciplinary action against the teacher.
Two members of the CCPCR, Parmod Sharma and Prof Nistha Jaswal, recommended that as interim relief, a month’s salary of the teacher be given to the victim and directed the school to send an action-taken report along with a photocopy of the cheque given to the child’s parents.
According to the complaint, on January 30, the child scored seven out of 10 marks in a computer written test, the highest in the class. Despite this, the victim was beaten and hit on the hands with a steel scale. The distraught child didn’t speak to anyone for six hours after returning home.
After the parents made a complaint to the Principal, the teacher admitted she had beaten the child thinking the child had obtained zero marks in the test. Taking suo motu cognisance of the incident, the CCPCR summoned the Principal and the teacher of the school.
During the hearing, the teacher admitted that she had slapped the child. She apologised and gave an assurance that she would not repeat her mistake.
While this is a first in response to a child given corporal punishment, it does have merit and is one way for the teacher (and his/her colleagues) to be mindful that similar consequences might befall them, should they break the law. It is doubtful if many teachers could afford to lose a month’s salary, so this would serve as lesson to be long remembered.
In 2011 High Court justices Md. Imman Ali and Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed the barbaric, uncivilised, ignorant practice of corporal punishment in Bangladesh schools and madrasahs declaring it “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”.
Much to the shame of the teaching fraternity, however, it still continues in all its dishonour throughout the country, especially in rural Bangladesh, where old habits based on total ignorance are well established, practised, and reluctant to change.
A child who is beaten in school, madrasah, or home is never grateful to the perpetrator/s or the society that permitted the outmoded abuse. You cannot expect a flower to blossom in all its wondrous glory if its stem is beaten, abused or in other ways mistreated. Corporal punishment in all settings must stop for Bangladesh to bloom.