After the government directive banning corporal punishment in all Bangladesh educational institutions, the practice had declined remarkably. It followed a landmark High Court order in 2010. The decade that followed witnessed a sharp fall in the age-old trend of punishment meted out to school students for even minor offences. Most of them were related to poor performance of students in classrooms including naughty behaviour and failure to complete home tasks. The High Court ruling evidently made a sobering impact on the episode of punishment of students at primary and secondary schools. Against this backdrop exuding a sense of relief, the creeping of the despicable practice back into village schools is clearly disconcerting.
According to intermittent newspaper reports, the practice of subjecting child and teenage school students to physical and mental torture has yet to be banished altogether. Generally remaining unreported in the mainstream media, it appears to be in practice in remote areas of the country. Most of these oppressive measures go unnoticed by the higher educational authorities. Local education authorities, child rights activists and related watchdogs try to keep track of the often-terrible experiences the school children are made to undergo. In a large number of cases, they are not widely disclosed or remain underreported. Notwithstanding the recent spurt in the frequency of the child student punishment at schools, many would like to call them a tip of the iceberg. For them the scenario means the scourge is coming back in the rural swathes.
A situation like this has socio-familial and psychological implications for the learners. There is also a way out. The authorities concerned need to step up monitoring of the schools and madrassas in order that they refrain from meting out harsh treatment to their pupils. In fact, an enigma of sorts overwhelms the situation. In Bangladesh and many other societies, teachers have for ages considered corporal punishment a necessity in order to keep students on track. It's a legacy from the past. The punishments included caning, slapping, beating mercilessly, compelling 'offending' students to stand in the scorching sun. Kneel down was once a widely practised punishment at schools. Besides, students used to be punished by humiliating them in front of the whole class. With the advent of the radically changed methods of imparting lessons to school students, punishments are viewed as detrimental to learners' overall academic and mental growth.
Severe punishments in classrooms have been banned in almost all developed countries. Developing countries like Bangladesh seem to have been sensitised to the modern reality. As viewed by the academics focused on students' all-round growth in the fast-developing societies, with children having digitised openings to the vast world, classroom punishment has long become an anachronism. In such a situation the isolated cases of classroom punishments signalling their veritable comeback warrants deterrents. The case for the tender-age boys or girls dropping out of school upon being punished by headstrong teachers ought to be consigned to oblivion. Likewise, the errant teachers should also be reminded of the civilised style of teaching.
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