LODHRAN: A fifth grade student who was left in charge of an entire school almost smashed a fouryear- old girl’s eye socket with a stick to enforce discipline.
The incident occurred in the Government Primary School in a remote village named Gher. Headmaster Mohammed Fayaz and the only two teachers Rao Wakeel and Abdul Razzaq left 120 students under the supervision of a twelveyear- old child. The school does not employ a watch guard. The headmaster stated that he was attending a training workshop and had no idea that the teachers would ask a 12-year-old to monitor three classrooms.
Sakhawat said that he was often asked to monitor whenever the teachers needed to go somewhere. In the absence of lectures, he had allowed all the students to run around in the playground. Sakhawat said that he had not intended to hit Majida. He stated that a boy was being very noisy and rowdy and he swung a stick to warn him when Majida somehow stepped in the way. The fouryear- old child received a blow to her eye and started bleeding profusely. Sobbing, she made her way across the street and straight home. Her injury infuriated her father and uncle who assumed that she had been hit by a teacher, as beating children was a common practice in their school.
When her father Mohammed Shafique reached the school, he was shocked to discover that the children were completely unattended. He gathered a few neighbours whose children also studied at the government school and the group collectively approached Aiyaz Khan, the EDO (education). The EDO heard their complaint, telephoned the headmaster and asked him to immediately return to the school.
Aiyaz said that he had specifically asked the headmaster and the teachers not to attend the workshop during school hours. He stated that such irresponsibility could not be overlooked and announced that an inquiry committee would investigate the matter and decide on a suitable action. He stated that he did not want teachers who did not understand the responsibility of working with children. Mohammed Shafique said, “Anything could have happened to the children. Anybody could have gained entry into the school and hurt the students.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. The headmaster is now asking me to pardon the teachers and permit an amicable settlement. How can I overlook this a second time? Two years ago, my seven-year-old son was beaten by his teacher. I decided to forgive them then because I assumed they would be careful in the future.” He added, “My girl could have lost her eye today. It is not easy to reach a doctor in this village.
I am forced to send my children to this school because it is right across the street and I do not have the means to send them elsewhere, but that does not mean that they can hurt my children.” The headmaster offered his apology on behalf of the teachers and expressed his hope that the community would convince Shafique to reach a settlement and call off the inquiry. He explained that one of the teachers had received news about the death of a loved one while the other teacher had left for a few minutes to collect papers from a nearby school. Sakhawat’s father Abdur Rasheed accused Shafique and Majida’s uncle of beating up his son.
He stated that they were no different and had raised their hands at a child when clearly the school administration was to blame. He accused Shafique and his brother of attempting to enter their house to threaten his family as well. DCO Ghulam Farid took serious notice of the incident and called on the EDO to discuss the matter. He assured Shafique that the inquiry committee would reach its decision within two days. Majida attends playgroup and was enrolled just so she could get accustomed to attending school. She was given first aid by her parents at home.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 21st, 2010.