Corporal punishment teaches hate
Letter to the Editor of New Age, Dhaka, Bangladesh
By Shakul Ali, September 17, 2010
In praise of a teacher
Letter to the Editor of New Age, Dhaka, Bangladesh
By Shabnaz Ullah, September 22, 2010
Corporal punishment teaches hate


I had been a schoolteacher for almost 30 years. I’m now retired and with an almost clear conscience.

I can count on one hand the number of times I hit children and I deeply regret those.

I wholeheartedly agree with Sir Frank Peters when he says corporal punishment teaches hate, resentment, vengeance, disrespect, and is the mother of terrorism and a violent society. Teachers teach, children learn. Subliminally, they also learn more from the good or bad behaviour of the teacher.

My parents (who were most loving, totally non-violent and abhorred corporal punishment) had taught my sisters, brothers, and I this.

Most of my fellow teachers, however, saw corporal punishment as a “quick fix” that often became their most used ‘tool’ daily in their teaching armoury and was often used willfully to excess without any form of recourse for the pupils. I engaged in many arguments over the years with my colleagues about this in support of the pupils, commonsense, and known psychological issues inflicted by corporal punishment.

Despite the abolition of corporal punishment by law, I cannot see an immediate end. There is a saying that ‘you cannot teach an old dog new tricks’.

We must also be aware that many of the ‘teachers’ (especially in villages) are school dropouts, academic failures and without any formal teaching training. An awareness campaign and retraining is a must, but without severe penalties or even the jailing of some teachers as a warning to all, there will be no instant change.

I appeal to all teachers to abolish the classroom culture of tyranny and terrorism and to promote an atmosphere of positive learning from which Bangladesh and everyone benefits and let’s move forward.

Shakul Ali
Ottawa, Canada.

Illustration: New Age, Dhaka, Bangladesh

In praise of a teacher


JUST when I was beginning to think that Bangladesh was becoming bankrupt of all morals, common decency, and self-respect, it was most refreshing and inspiring to read the letter from former schoolteacher Shakul Ali (New Age, Dhaka, Bangladesh, September 17).

For 30 years Mr Ali had been part of the system that unapologetically inflicts pain and suffering on innocent and vulnerable children. He wrote that on very rare occasions he was one of the ‘torturers’ (my description, not his) for which he deeply regrets. Much to his honour, dignity and pride, he spent most of his school career trying to convince his colleagues that corporal punishment is wrong.

No doubt Mr Ali is one of the rare breed of teachers, whom some of us were lucky to have teaching us, who’ve brought great honour, glory and respect to the profession and whom most of us admire long after we’ve left school.

Like this noble teacher, and as a mother of school-going children, I fear the abolition of corporal punishment in school will be in thought and not in deed.

Sir Frank Peters who campaigned and won to have corporal punishment abolished, said only a battle had been won, not the war. He went on to say: ‘Corporal punishment is deeply embedded into Bangladeshi culture and cannot and will not be eradicated overnight.’ The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, speaks of the youth as our greatest asset…the future of Bangladesh. It is logical, therefore, not to delay implementing the law and ensure that our most-valued possessions are protected and not tortured any more.

The graphic used by The New Age beside Mr Ali’s letter showing the hypocrisy of corporal punishment was excellent and worth a dictionary in words.

Shabnaz Ullah
Jubilee Road, Chittagong

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