Ending corporal punishment
Noor Jahan Punam
On 27th December 2011, Ain O Shalish Kendra, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) in collaboration with Save the Children jointly organised a workshop on ending corporal punishment.
The guests at the workshop provided information about the recent developments in the area of corporal punishment in legal and practical terms.
Ms Sara Hossain, Honorary Director, BLAST, stated that the journey started 1.5 years ago when BLAST made an application for a judgment in the matter of corporal punishment at Justice Md. Iman Ali's court. Generally when writs are filed, they remain hanging but fortunately they got through with the writ. The judgment has been logically placed and the judgment made was in accordance with our constitution. Not only that, the judgment also provided guidelines as to further reforms on the matter of corporal punishment. The aim of the workshop was to explore the development since the judgment.
Justice Md Iman Ali said that the matter of corporal punishment came into his view at the beginning of 2010 when all the newspapers were reporting how teachers were beating up children at schools. Normally when someone beats another that is punishable under the law but if children are beaten up by their teachers or parents that is not penalised. The children are punished by beating for very little mistakes such as not taking colouring pencils to school, etc. He also emphasised that every child is the apple of his/her parents' eyes and that every child is an asset to any country. He furthermore expressed how corporal punishment is painful and humiliating to a child. He counts himself lucky that he passed the judgment on 18th July 2010 and soon after that the Education Ministry published a circular on 8th August 2010 stating that corporal punishment is absolutely prohibited. The Ministry also published guidelines on 31st October 2010 named Prohibition of Physical and Mental Punishment of Students. He highlighted the effects of corporal punishment on a child- they feel insecure about whom they can turn to? They think they are to blame for family trouble, etc, etc. He has seen the reaction of a child when a hand is lifted to slap him/her. Physical, psychological and emotional violence against children should be stopped. Otherwise, children would have the tendency of dropping out of school, truancy, losing interest in class, etc.
Sayeed Ahmed, CEO, IID, stated that a small survey has been undertaken by BLAST and STC on the status of corporal punishment today. The survey has covered Rangpur, Barisal, Kushtia and Faridpur. The overall survey shows substantial fall in the practice of corporal punishment at schools.
Dr Muhammed Zafar Iqbal emphasised that children can be helped more by being rewarded rather than by beating.
Mr Nurul Islam Nahid, Hon'ble Minister, Ministry of Education assured that the Ministry will consider all the suggestions put forward at the meeting and bring them within the bounds of the law. A code of conduct for teachers will be in force very soon. He also asserted that the education process should be made attractive to children and fun filled. Most importantly, students should be respected by the teachers.
The writer is working with Law Desk, Daily Star.