Don’t let anybody tell you there is no evil within our schools/madrasas education systems. Those who do are lying, just don’t know, or are covering up the sordid facts.
If it’s of any consolation, however, the evil to be seen in Bangladesh can also be found in schools/madrasahs throughout the world. And that makes it even sadder.
Added to that, why in many cases, do the abusers go unpunished and continue to collect their taxes-sponsored government-paid salaries each month? Is that an act of endorsement by the government, which would make it complicit in the crimes committed by the ‘teachers’/’imams’?
Unquestionably, it would not be the intention of the government, but if lawful action isn’t taken against the abusers, it’s as good as an endorsement. It adds up to much the same.
What kind of evil are we talking about? This week, for example, surgeons, at a hospital in Kenya are working against time to restore the testicles and stitch back the scrotum of a young pupil.
‘Teachers’ at Kamukunji Primary School smashed the boy’s genitals and have since fled the scene, after police launched an investigation into the incident.
Closer to home, police in Pune are investigating an horrific beating given to three boys, all aged 15, by three ‘teachers’ (they seem to be working in gangs of three these days).
The students were playing among themselves in the classroom, which caused a bit of a ruckus. Three ‘teachers’ arrived on the scene armed with sticks and caned them liberally.
Not satisfied with the amount of tears spilt by the boys, they then took the students to the staff-room where the cruel beatings ruthlessly continued, despite the wailing loud pleas of mercy begging from the distraught boys.
Notably, only ONE of the parents made a police complaint against the three despicable law-breakers, which is a clear indication that much of this evil still goes on, but not all is reported.
While one may point their index fingers at the cruel ‘teachers’ in disgust and anger, one should also be aware the headmaster/principal is equally to blame... if not more.
He/she is the one who engaged them. It was his/her responsibility to vet them, ensure they were suitable for a teaching post, bring them up to speed on the law and warn them they would lose their jobs, if they broke the law.
In August 2021 a sessions' court in Nagpur ruled that being head of the institution, the principal carried the responsibility of ANYTHING happening on the school premises between teachers and students. This is something headmasters/principals in Bangladesh ought to remember.
A few days ago five boys acted out a scene that could have been scripted for a World War ll Prisoner of War movie escape scene. The boys’ aged between 8 and 10 ran away from a madrasa in Kalwa to avoid being beaten by two brute ‘teachers’.
The children enrolled in the madrasa for education in the teachings of Islam by their God-fearing religious parents, but were being beaten daily and forced to work – slave labour.
If corporal punishment were legal and acceptable in a government-run school (which it isn’t); one would be right to expect a madrasa to lift their game, set a much higher standard and teach the Koran by example in an atmosphere of love, forgiveness and understanding, as the holy book dictates. But (BIG sigh) there appears to be many hypocrites occupying many of the teaching posts.
One has to admire and applaud the parents and students in Rajouri who recently took matters into their own hands to prevent corporal punishment. They staged a protest demonstration outside Government High School Manyal in Thanamandi accusing Liyaqit Ali (a ‘teacher’) of corporal punishment cruelty.
The protesters said that despite a strict ban on corporal punishment Liyaqit Ali had engaged in giving the children corporal punishment and harassing them. They demanded immediate action and his transfer from the school.
Transfer? – Isn’t that akin to banishing someone with Coronavirus Covid-19 to protect local population, but transmitting it elsewhere? Description: f you don’t want the children to become aggressive, bullies, miscreants and all that you despise, don’t teach it (i)
A magistrate relieved the ‘teacher’ from his duties and ordered him to report to the Chief Education Office for disciplinary action.
If Bangladesh is serious about protecting “the future of Bangladesh” (as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (among others) describe the children and keep telling us; then it must clearly make Bangladesh a No Corporal Punishment Zone.
There has to be a “two-strikes and your out policy” (or similar) in the teaching profession... irrespective of the fact the ‘teacher’ is the first cousin of a politician or related in some way to someone of influence.
This policy MUST also be upheld and enforced by the teaching unions. There is no teaching union in the world that would boast with pride of having ‘bad apples’ among its membership, why should Bangladesh be any different?
It’s time to draw a line under the errors of the past and work towards a future where iron grills on the windows are not required, where people participate in peaceful demonstrations and exercise their democratic rights without fear of being attacked by machete-wielding politically-misguided misfits who wreak havoc on society and damage the national economy; where students actually attend universities to learn, free of all forms of mindless thuggery, skulduggery and stand-over tactics.
Begin by eradicating corporal punishment (and those who perpetrate it) from the school and madrasa systems. This alone will short-circuit many of the social problems that plague the nation today.
If Bangladesh doesn’t want the children to become bullies, miscreants and all the antisocial characteristics everyone despises, it would be wise not to teach it in the classrooms.
The writer is a human rights activist and foreign friend of Bangladesh