According to Abid Zaman, an employee at a grocery shop, his eight-year-old son, Saqib Zaman, took a day off from school as he had a high fever. He said that the school administration was not informed of his absence because Abid could not inform them.
When Saqib went to class the next day, his teacher, Rizwan, inquired about his absence, upon which Saqib explained that he could not attend school as he was sick.
Rizwan, however, took his unannounced leave as a serious violation of school discipline and allegedly started slapping and punching him. Even after that, Rizwan was unsatisfied with the punishment. Unmoved by the wailing boy, he started beating the boy with a cane. He kept beating Saqib till the time the little boy was unable to stand on his feet and was about to collapse with pain, explained Abid.
“Saqib was not allowed to go home even though he was crying in pain and could not even sit due to the abrasions on his legs, back and buttocks,” said a student of the same class.
Abid said he tried to lodge a criminal case against the inhumane act of the class teacher, but was forced to retreat by some influential villagers at the police station.
The complainant then took the injured boy to media personnel and informed them about the incident.
Meanwhile, Abid Khan Jadoon, the head teacher at the school, confirmed that corporal punishment had been used on the boy. However, he said that he, along with some notables of the area, had managed to convince the father to forgive the teacher, as lodging a criminal case against a teacher would bring ‘disrepute’ to the teaching profession.
He explained that a local jirga held a meeting to discuss to incident, where the father agreed to pardon the teacher, who apologised for his actions.
The head teacher acknowledged that corporal punishment was banned in government schools and such barbaric acts were a clear violation of the instructions of the education department.
Meanwhile, Adeel Ahmed, a social activist at a non-governmental organisation Human Development Organisation, Qamar Hayat of Sahara Foundation and Ibrar Shah of Rural Development Project have condemned the incident and demanded strict action against the teacher.
They said that juvenile delinquency and deviant behaviour among children was in fact a result of corporal punishment in the country. They also claimed that the dropout rate among schoolchildren could also increase due to such inhumane behaviour by teachers. Education Executive District Officer Riaz Khan Swati was not available for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2011.