Laws against corporal punishment ban various forms of physical violence against children, yet their breach is frequent
While 21st century education is advancing towards the use of technology along with the latest interventions by psychologists and educationists in schools to combat violence and various forms of bullying, the Pakistani school landscape continues to be characterised by outdated practices, involving the use of violence against students. It may even be apt to say that violence is taught to students by the teacher. This was the day’s lesson by one teacher in Haripur, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), who severely injured a seventh grade female student. Surely, there was a less violent alternative for classroom management and for the teacher to get the student’s attention, but little would our less-than-modern day teachers know about that.
Cases of corporal punishment are commonplace in all parts of the country. Laws against corporal punishment ban various forms of physical violence against children, yet their breach is frequent. In 2013, parliament passed The Prohibition of the Corporal Punishment Act, but there appears to have been little effort made when it comes to its implementation, with students continuing to be mistreated at the hands of teachers. No surprise there, because without consequences for violent behaviour on the teacher’s part, corporal punishment will continue as, according to one report last year, 70 per cent of teachers in Pakistan believe in its utility.
Our legislators and the law-enforcement apparatus need to hold true to Pakistan’s international obligations vis-a-vis the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child to which the country is a signatory; its Article 19 says all appropriate measures must be taken to protect a child from physical and mental violence. Corporal punishment needs to be denounced as archaic and a serious form of abuse; it is not a solution to classroom behaviour problems and there is a need for training teachers in modern-day classroom management practices.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2015.
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