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rights of child 1989”. “The Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Pakistan ratified in 1990, condemns all forms of physical and mental violence against the child, including injury and abuse”. The provinces banned the corporal punishment. The NWFP government did it through, “a letter (1803-30/F. No 13/DS &1/M&N/G: Corr: dated Dec 13, 2003) by the director of schools and literacy”. (DAWN 14 January 2004 e/Edition). The Punjab and Baluchistan issued similar directives. In Pakistani schools, physical abuse and torture is widespread. It is illegal and but not criminal. The law is objective less. The law, which cannot be a deciding factor, is hypocrisy. The people, in favor of corporal punishment quote “Section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC, 1860) [that] allows parents, teachers and other guardians to use corporal punishment as means to discipline children under 12 years old.” When cases of physical assault against child come under discussion, this piece of legislation is a handy cover. The baseline is, name physical abuse as correction “Islah” and mistreat little children.
The objective of corporal punishment is fuzzy. Ask a teacher, “Why you punish the students?” Nine out of ten times “Islah” (“correction”) is the answer. Then, as an afterthought, perhaps in remorse, they amend. A complaint statement follows. It ranges from overpopulated classes, lack of space, recreational facilities and economic conditions faced in daily lives. Etc.
Corporal punishment bears psychological scars. Some develop fears of facing people and problems. It hinders the learning process. Pakistan Psychological Society has recorded its adverse medical effects. “The students taught under physical abuse and torture, when grow up, they usually, get over reactive and are hard to discipline”. A senior professor told. Worst still, is a link between punishment related school dropouts and crimes.
When deemed wrong, a student is subject to punishment. A teacher cannot be wrong, especially, while administering punishment. He becomes always right. A student, a lesser mortal, not supposed to question his actions.
Intertwined are the school dropout rate and corporal punishment. The reasons of dropout are social and economic. The corporal punishment is the core social reason of school leaving. For young ones, it is catalyst of social evils. In fact, the slogan “Education for all” remains just a slogan.
A class is in progress, rather a monologue. At the end, a question pops up. “Understand?” A unanimous voice follows. “Yes Sir/Madam/Miss”. Who dares to question a “stick holder”? By this, one can conclude. Truth is a victim, where fear rules.
When asked a teacher “why punishment, even, at the primary school level?” “I produced so many Doctors and Engineers,” He proudly announced. “What about the drop outs?” I meekly reminded. Who will tell our schoolteachers, the objective of schooling is not mass production of doctors and engineers.
Some argue that corporal punishment is the last resort. The analysis suggests otherwise, usually, punishment is the result of “Frustration”, either at personal or professional level. Grudge and incompetence makes it even worst. We live in “interesting times”. Picture one: a teacher committed to apply every legal or illegal means. The sole objective is “correction” of students. Picture two: A frustrated person, unable to face the pressures around him. Then, as a catharsis, gives vent to his anger. Different sides same coin. The punishment is immeasurable. The scale varies. The studies suggest that the students with weaker and diverse background on social, religious, cultural, caste and economic lines get more. Some people, usually teachers, have a strange myth. “The part of the body beaten up by the sticks of a teacher will not be burnt in the hell”. Perhaps, nobody knows the exact source of this saying. However, a smokescreen of myth is available. High regards for teaching fraternity. The schoolteachers are working under economic stress and low self-esteem. In order to resurrect ego, some teachers threat, intimidate and punish the students. The rural and semiurban schools are examples. The schools elsewhere are no exception. Sometimes, students with physical strength or quick learning abilities act as liaison between students and a teacher. They control, teach, revise lessons and punish classmates on behalf of their teacher. “Pseudo English Medium Schools” and “government schools” are examples. The rural and semi-urban parents are unique. As a word of encouragement, they tell the teachers to punish their child, as they like. Nevertheless, make him a great person (Barra Admi). Thus, justification granted. However, the studies on runaway children and jailed individuals show that excessive punishment only produces what it is. It teaches how to hit and insult. When the pupils learn it, the society blames. The social sector is vital. They work for children. They create awareness and help legal standardization. The beneficiary is a teacher. A teacher requires knowing, in clear terms, that he should act, within the parameters of the law and ethics. Who is to judge, the punishment awarded and executed was fair or unfair? Is there any mechanism to stop it? For the purpose, establish punishment and abuse reporting centers. Due to social and economic factors, physical abuse is vastly underreported. Maintain a database of press record of physical abuses committed against schoolchildren. Publish periodical report of actions taken against every individual case.
Ministry of Education and UNICEF require developing an icon, insignia or a sticker. Awareness and warning sign. Make it mandatory to fix it in classrooms. It is not difficult. Particularly, when packaged with international grants. This sign, if not educated the teacher, will place the little children on better moral ground. A Certification Program to declare the schools as physical abuse and torture free can be helpful. Develop a brand name. Appoint brand ambassador. An excellent monitoring system with governmental and UNICEF backing can make it a viable product. A structure can be evolved, initially at the national level, and then, at the international level under UNICEF. As a concerted effort, the Ministry of Education can set child’s rights lessons in textbooks. Introduce teaching laws. For awareness, set some questions in the exams about rights of the child. Furthermore, a request to legislators, improve the laws. Pakistan has international commitments for the rights of the child. Our local law is not reflecting this. The schoolteacher is a specialist. The education sector is treating it as job for the jobless. Compromised are the qualifications, training, salaries, experience and expertise. Enhance human capital. Never compromise benchmark qualifications. It is simple, select right person, who knows his job. As closing words, one can say, there are two distinct paths for the teachers, one of urge, interest, challenge and opportunity. The other one is of coercion, fear, intimidation and blind following. The choice is crucial. A person who deals in the coin of fear, intimidation and coercion cannot be a teacher. A person who makes weakness of the little children a crime cannot be a teacher. A person who is the brutal killer of spontaneity, creativity and freethinking cannot be a teacher. A person who believes that discipline is the offspring of cruel punishment cannot be a teacher. Teaching is convincing. Teaching is winning. Teaching is ruling on the hearts and minds of individuals you teach.