Saturday, 22 January, 2022
E-paper

Teachers Must Respect Pupils – First!

Sir Frank Peters

Today is the 11th anniversary of banning corporal punishment in schools, madrasas and other learning establishments. To the nation’s disgrace, the reviled practice still continues with children being mentally and physically tortured, maimed and damaged for life. Some chose suicide to escape its horrors.

 

On January 13, 2011, when our good friends, patriots and national heroes, the honourable justices Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hassan Arif made the moral, right and proper decision to ban corporal punishment in schools and madrasas for the greater benefit of the nation, it was truly an occasion to rejoice and celebrate.

Yippee! – After four decades, Bangladesh was on the right road to becoming civilized and to recognizing the fact that children are the roots of its future.  Damage its youth and you ultimately damage the nation.

The fact the decision to protect the children by ridding the nation of the corporal punishment despicable scourge, was handed down on January 13 (an unlucky-for-some day in the almanac of superstitions, not me, I hastily add). If these noble justices had waited until January 14, would the situation in our schools be as they are today?

Rife in the classroom

We know prior to January 13, 2011 corporal punishment was not only rife, but executed mercilessly particularly in rural areas. We know that many of the alleged ‘teachers’ (the majority, unqualified and untrained) should never have been engaged by any school as teachers, but they being the relative of an MP (or whatever) helped push their names to the top of the applicants’ pile and the Headmaster had no alternative, but to engage them or find himself without a job and unable to support his own family. Or, alternatively, the contents of the brown-envelope secured their position.

And while this skulduggery was going on in filling the vacancies, good, compassionate people, with excellent teaching abilities, and wanting to make a positive difference in the education system were unceremoniously relegated to the side and ultimately ignored.

Personally, I have no objection whatsoever to a relative of an MP, celebrity, or whoever getting a teaching position... if their qualifications are superior to those offered by other applicants.

First and foremost, a teacher... any teacher... all teachers ... must serve what’s best for the nation.

Bangladesh is fortunate... VERY FORTUNATE ... to have many good teachers within the education system. I have met many. They sleep soundly at night, knowing that each day as they look at the sea of inquisitive ‘what’s all this about?’ faces in their classrooms they’re looking at a future captain of industry, Prime Minister or President of the nation.

They know they’re providing valuable assistance towards their development and the pupils move on with confidence, even if the said pupils do not pause long enough to say ‘thank you’. Every good teacher knows, however, when the pupils become adults and reflects upon their years at school they will be remembered, thanked, appreciated and loved.

Fondness and love for life

There isn’t a lot more a teacher would want or wish. The teacher who provides that loving, compassionate, professional service will be forever remembered in the pupil’s prayers throughout their lives with great fondness and love.

Whenever a good teacher experiences a warm ear, you can be sure it is a pupil who is speaking highly of them in a prayer of admiration, even from the other side of the globe.

Now let’s take a look at the fake teachers, who describes themselves as teachers, but even they know inwardly they’re not.

They’re easily identified. NO proper, principled teacher would resort to corporal punishment to control a classroom situation. The first requirement of any teacher is to show honesty and respect to the pupils in his/her care. Their credo should be: if it's not right, don’t teach it; if it’s not true don't say it.

A teacher who exhibits respect FIRST, will effect enormous positive benefits. The one thing us adults know for sure is that respect demands respects and once given, it is reciprocated many fold. The same applies to pupils who are little people with similar feelings to us. If we respect them, they will respect us.

When a teacher is respected in the classroom, there is no need for him/her to raise their voice in frustration or anger. The pupils will police the situation, automatically jump to the teacher’s defence and resolve the matter... because they respect the teacher. 

This response is natural and sincere. Nobody wants to see the people they love and respect humiliated by somebody stepping out of line. When you respect/love someone, it’s natural to jump to their defence. The pupils (little people) are no different. His/her peers will correct a pupil who is excited, noisy, or speaks loud in class without the teacher ever having to move a facial muscle, where respect exists.

Make comparison

Compare that to the uneducated, unqualified ‘teacher’ who responds from a position of ignorance to all situations brandishing a terrorizing stick.

You can’t slap a person in the face and expect the act to be forgotten/forgiven. Corporal punishment is a violation of the most basic and crucial laws of a civilized society. No civilized society would tolerate or permit corporal punishment. Civilized people do not hit people and children are people, too.

Violence begets violence and never resolves conflicts. To teach violence in classrooms is diabolical, shameful, and makes no sense whatsoever.

Justices Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif knew this (and more).

In their summary, the super heroes said corporal punishment is: “Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”.

For anything to change, all is needed is to change the attitude towards it. Are we to accept the superstition of January 13 being an unlucky day for Bangladesh and consequently, to prolong the suffering of the children or do we get serious about protecting the ‘future of the nation’ (as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has often described the children)?

Let the change of attitude begin now in 2022.

 

Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and

magazine publisher and editor and a profoundly appreciated foreign friend of Bangladesh