Saturday, 13 December 2014

Legal View: Teachers Who Give Hard Punishment


Would it be out of place to state that some teachers are impatient with children entrusted in their care and as such, government should establish laws to regulate discipline in schools?  Aina Tolulope takes a look at hard/corporal punishment and Nigeria's educational system.
 
Schools are social institutions and sometimes religious which have been formed and accepted by various communities due to life- time lessons they impart in the lives of children and adults alike. These lessons have become necessary and sometimes mandatory especially the formal education which is an open door to all of life's verisimilitudes.

Schools cannot function without teachers just like farmlands cannot function without the farmer and his tools. With this established fact, the question then is: What kind of teachers do proprietors of schools employ these days? It was in the news last year that a teacher in Edo State beat up a pupil with a bunch of broom, simply because she failed arithmetic. As if that was not enough, she had accused her of being a witch and was responsible for all the problems in the school and in the life of the teacher. In the process of flogging the girl which reports says started with a cane, and then a bunch of a broom, the right eye of the girl got damaged and medical experts in the country have said is beyond repairs. The minor through her family is demanding for a compensation of 100 million naira.

Teachers used to be the role models of many children but this is not the case anymore. Some might say thanks to the stipends paid to teachers at the end of each month. But that is not the case as teaching is a noble profession that should be appreciated and admired if only Nigeria can take a cue from other countries.
But what could have made a teacher, a married woman and supposedly a mother to beat up a girl to the extent of damaging an eye? Carelessness, wickedness, transfer of aggression, and the list continue to grow, will likely be the reasons for such. However, there should be a searchlight that should be beamed in all the carnies as there might be more than meets the eye.

Already, it is no longer news to say that our public schools have become mere dumping grounds for house helps and children of the less privilege. This is not necessarily because of the low standard of education when compared to private elitist schools and also based on the tuition fees. But because of the lack of facilities and deplorable conditions which in turn affects the psyche of teachers and students as well as pupils alike. But should this reason, as convincing as it looks be a reason for such?

A close study at our educational system has revealed that many teachers pass through our tertiary institutions but do not allow the classical dictates that serves as the foundation of the establishments of the institutions to pass through them, as this has proven that some of them cannot effectively communicate in the imperial language referred to as English, the language of power. That is not all. Some of them lack the basic principles to teach and train the children in their care. With these short comings, how then can they be effective in dispensing knowledge as they cannot give out what they do not have and to make matters worse, if they are being corrected by the children in their custody?

A chat with an educationist with the Nasarawa State government who pleaded anonymity disclosed that the rules of education concerning discipline states that students must be corrected in love and understanding which is basically what the Holy books propagate. 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, many educationists forget this rule/lesson as soon as they start teaching.
He further said that in the ethics of the profession, teachers were not permitted to discipline students as it was only the principal or head teacher who had the right to do so and whenever punishment was to be administered especially if a cane was involved, the hand of the principal or head teacher must not be above arms length.

By and large, he was of the opinion that counseling most of the time provided and yielded better results than corporal punishment which if not properly administered could lead to low self esteem in the student which will invariably affect the performance of the student.

Every day we hear about the constitution, its amendment in part or in whole, fundamental human rights that has to do with women and children who suffer double oppression in every society, acts, bills and sections and all the balderdash that has to do with having a good and vibrant society which is devoid of crimes based on the laws that govern the Nigerian society. With all of these, the constitution cannot be said to be complete as the issue of teachers and how they discipline their students whether in passive is not been mentioned.

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