SIR FRANK PETERS :: Corporal Punishment is a toxin as dangerous to mind and body as smoking, asbestos and DDT.
Hartals: Who in their RIGHT mind would inflict such wanton violence and destruction to public and private property and call it democratic?
Incredible! Unbelievable! Shameful! Brutal! Inhumane! It’s all of those – and more!
Yusuf Khan Sagar, a child of 12, is presently at home nursing his bruises and trying to shut out the painful memory of a living nightmare he experienced this week in Hefza Khana, Sakunda Upazila, at the hands of terrorist ‘teacher’, Hujor Adur Rahim.
Rahim accused Yusuf of stealing his mobile phone and then mercilessly lashed out at him with 10-12 almighty blows of a cane across his back and arms until Yusuf could endure no more and passed out. Yusuf, however, might take some comfort and joy in knowing locals gave Rahim a good beating before handing him over to the police for his crime.
It’s mournfully sad that corporal punishment is alive and well and flourishes in schools throughout Bangladesh, especially in rural areas where the laws of the jungle often prevail and the so-called educated bully the illiterate.
It’s sad for the abused victims, sad for the nation, sad for the teaching profession and particularly heart-breaking for the good, patriotic, principled teachers who oppose it and are victimised because they want to see it end.
Throughout history, people have looked to the teaching profession with Bambi eyes filled with awe, admiration and trust. Bangladesh is no exception. Teachers have long been put on pedestals and given special consideration by the communities they serve, but the end of that era is beckoning, if not already here.
Many ‘teachers’, like Abdur Rahim, have chosen to become outlaws. they have no respect or regard for the law, the children in their care, the future of Bangladesh or their profession.
A section of the teaching community were outraged when the Bangladesh High Court Divisional bench heroes Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md Sheikh Hasan Arif introduced the anti corporal punishment law on January 13, 2011. This deprived ‘teachers’ of the pleasure they were receiving through giving corporal punishment to children. How would it be possible for them to vent their frustrations in the future? By beating their wives, kicking their dogs ?
Loving, trusting, but totally ignorant mothers, believing to be doing what’s best, what’s right for their offspring, delivered their precious children into the arms of unscrupulous, unprincipled, sadistically-sick ‘teachers’ in schools and madrasahs to be ‘disciplined’ and shown the path of righteousness without questioning the consequences. Like I said, they were ignorant.
Corporal Punishment is a toxin in modern-day society as dangerous to mind and body as smoking, asbestos, DDT and worse. At one time all of those were considered to be “human friendly”.
If you are exposed to toxins for any length of time, it’s guaranteed you will become affected; some more than others; no two people are the same.
A single glance at the streets of Bangladesh during a hartal should be enough for anyone to pause and ask themselves how much of this violence and repulsive unsocial behaviour is owed to the infliction of corporal punishment in schools. Who in their RIGHT mind would inflict such wanton violence and destruction to public and private property and call it democratic?
Hartals, as we know them, are absurd; they are a curse: mindless, senseless, irrational national economy wreckers – an enemy of the state. They’ve become the meeting point and playing fields of thugs, terrorists, goons, loonies, miscreants, the misled and disillusioned and no longer serve a noble, practical and worthwhile purpose.
Education is the only hope to bring about much needed change.
To me, teachers (those who do their job right) are the unsung heroes and heroines of any nation. Other than being a doctor or a nurse, I cannot think of any other profession that deserves more praise, appreciation and support of parents and government. They spend almost as much time with children as the parents and, in many respects, are far more influential. Their responsibility to the child, family, school and nation, therefore, is great. In the classroom a teacher is meant to teach what’s right and not demonstrate what’s wrong.
Unfortunately, many employed as teachers in the Bangladesh education system are not teachers (wouldn’t hold a candle to them in real terms) and give the teaching profession a bad name. Many, regrettably, do not know how to teach – they were never formally trained. They just go mimic what they’ve seen in TV soap operas and movies, wear the title of teacher, and if not for the deplorable brown envelope system, they would never have been given the job.
And that’s all it is to many of them… a mere job… a job for life with a pension and one to which they never give passion or heart.
How many children are damaged, broken and dispirited for life as a result of encountering and interacting with such ‘teachers’? Again, perhaps, we should peep into the streets during hartal days for an indication.
I have all the sympathy in the world for teachers who go without their salary for months at a time. This can only make them bitter; resentful of the education system and make them feel disrespected and unappreciated. Unless this teacher is an angel on earth, this pent-up anger and frustration is likely to spill over and manifest itself as corporal punishment on poor hapless innocent children, often in its most ugly, inhumane, and cruelest form.
While I offer these ‘teachers’ my sympathy, I offer them no respect for venting their personal grievances, heartaches and frustrations on guiltless pupils. Beating a child senseless to release pent-up frustrations doesn’t change their personal circumstances, just makes them worse.
In every new-born baby there are the makings of a saint. They come into this world with a label hand-woven by God that under the heading MADE IN BANGLADESH, reads:
“I’m unique and precious. There is none other like me in the world.
Handle me with Care, Kindness, Tenderness and Respect.”
Unfortunately, most times its not seen attached to the umbilical cord and is inadvertently discarded with the gift-wrapping in which the baby was delivered.
The right time to hit a child is NEVER.
It’s time the teaching fraternity changed its mind-set, discarded its bad apples, prepared to meet the new world and did what is expected of it. Then the honour, respect, love and glory will return to it in great abundance. Respect cannot be taught in the classroom, it is learned through good example.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian, human rights activist, and a steadfast foreign friend of Bangladesh.)