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The well-known Bengali saying, “There is no better medicine than a good beating,” perhaps best demonstrates the traditional mindset of many Bangladeshis about corporal punishment to discipline children.
Despite a ban on corporal punishment to the students at educational institutions imposed two years back, students still are subjected to beating, caning and other forms of physical and mental torture as punishment. Even reports of committing suicide by student due to these have often been seen in the newspapers.
Soon after the High Court’s order to stop corporal punishment in schools, the government on August 2010 slapped an outright ban on punishing students.
Sadly, the incidents are still occurring occasionally in different parts of the country as the teachers only receive verbal instructions about corporal punishment without any formal training on imparting lessons and classroom management till now.
Following public outcry, the education ministry decided to prepare a manual for teachers with guidance for classroom management last year and asked Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) to come up with a draft. But, the ministry has not been able to finalise the manual yet.
Asked about the progress of the manual, Prof Taslima Begum, Director (training), DSHE, said, “The ministry has approved the draft we made on methodologies of training teachers on classroom management.”
“We are in the process of running a pilot project on training teachers. If it turns out to be effective, we will launch a project of training all teachers on classroom management,” said Taslima.
Meanwhile, in absence of specific guidelines and awareness about the dangers of punishing youngsters, some appalling incidents have taken place at different schools across the country.
On October 2 this year, teachers of Blue Bird School and College in Sylhet allegedly tortured a class IX student Md Mahbub Gofur Abir and confined him in a locked room. When his parents failed to elicit any action from the district administration, they filed a case against three teachers of the school at the chief judicial magistrate’s court, informed Shamsul Islam, father of Abir.
It is not only that the victims may suffer physical injury. It harms their personality as well. “It is very hard for a young student to take insult in front of his/her peers. As a result, the punished student remains angry afterwards. It harms the normal development of the student,” said renowned writer and human rights activist Selina Hossain.