A protest rally was taken out on Wednesday under the Child Rights Movement banner at Liberty Roundabout to condemn corporal punishment in schools.
Protestors led by Idaara-i-Taleem-o-Agahi (ITA) workers demanded that government institutions and civil society come together to abolish corporal punishment in schools across the country.
Dr Baela Raza Jamil, the programme director at ITA, said that a mechanism was needed to determine whether a teacher could handle children or not.
“This can take the form of a licence,” she said.
Dr Jamil said that pre-service training programmes must train teachers in how to behave with children.
“Child suicides have increased at both private and government schools,” she said. “Some of the children have blamed receiving corporal punishments at school for it.”
She said that the government needed to establish vigilance committees to monitor teachers and take swift action in case of violations of the corporal punishment law.
“Some teachers still believe they have a right to use violence to discipline children,” she said. “They think this is the only way to teach children.”
“‘A six-year-old was paraded in a school in Gujjar Khan with chor (thief) written on his forehead” Zain Yousuf, a lawyer and programme officer at the AGHS (Asma, Gulrukh, Hina and Sheila) labour wing told The Express Tribune.
The child had been accused of stealing Rs5 from a class fellow’s bag, he said.
“He did not want to return to school after the incident.”
Yousaf said he had been part of a fact finding commission to various districts in Punjab to investigate corporal punishment complaints in schools.
The number of reported incidents increased last year, Azhar Nazir, a research officer at AGHS, said.
Usman Ali, a programme officer at ITA, said most incidents of corporal punishment are reported from government schools.
“Teachers told a recent delegation to Dadu that ‘they could not teach without a danda (stick),” he said.
Wasif Ali, a matric student who had joined the protest with his three classmates, said that corporal punishment could lead children into drastic steps, including taking their own lives.
“When a child is humiliated at school and then at home again, what can he do except commit suicide,” he said.
The Child Rights Movement has launched a campaign against corporal punishment in schools and for generating public awareness regarding Article 25-A, which guarantees free and compulsory education between the ages of 5 and 16.
The rally was attended by 20 people who carried placards and chanted slogans to abolish corporal punishment at all schools.
The slogans included ‘Taleem Do Hifazat Say Taleem Do Pyaar Say,’ ‘Naheen Sahain Gay Bachay Tashaddud Nahein Sahain Gay’ and ‘Bund Karo, Dunda Culture Bund Karo’.
CRM plans to hold seminars and protests on each Wednesday.
“We hope to involve children and university students in the coming weeks,” said Dr Jamil.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.
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