(Sharjah) No teacher has the right to beat a pupil and no self-justification in the matter can be accepted, a senior education official asserted yesterday.
"Beating pupils is unacceptable," declared Ahmad Habib, Director of the Private Education Department at Sharjah Educational Zone. "In any case, the ministry has banned any kind of corporal punishment in UAE schools."
He was commenting on the ongoing case wherein a Palestinian teacher of Omar Abdul Wahed Al Buraimi, a UAE national child in grade four at a Sharjah-based private school, is being investigated by the Public Prosecution on allegations of beating the pupil, as filed at Al Gharb Police Station by the child's mother.
The boy suffered severe bruising as a result of the beating by his Arabic language teacher, who was yesterday referred to the Prosecution.
A medical report enclosed with the formal police complaint reported evidence of black bruises on the child's arm resulting from a severe beating with a metal instrument.
Habib stressed that the teacher involved should be punished whatever be the cause that prompted her to beat the child.
He clarified that the Educational Zone had as yet not been involved in the matter since the pupil's mother had directly filed the complaint with the Ministry of Education and Youth.
"If the ministry refers the case to the Zone, we will start our investigations with the relevant teacher and school, but so far we have not been formally notified by either the ministry or the parents," he explained.
He added that the number of such cases reported to the Zone do not exceed an average of 10 every academic year, but he stressed that the ongoing case appears the most serious instance: "There has never been any case of a severe beating reported to the zone, one that has left bruises on a pupil's body."
Habib explained that the Zone investigated all such cases and imposed penalties against the teachers involved, in coordination with the relevant school administration.
"Such cases, whatever the degree of the corporal punishment, are penalised, with the penalties ranging from issuing warnings, making a written undertaking to the effect that the offence will not be repeated, and deduction of salaries," he said.
The department also takes the circumstances of the teacher into account. "For example, a teacher who has maintained a clean record for 20 years and one day beats a child slightly will not receive the same penalty as a teacher who beats pupils without reason." Habib stressed teachers should follow other means of handling any probable wrong conduct of a pupil rather than resort to beating them.
"There should also be a social worker at each school but, unfortunately, some schools do not abide by the rule of appointing a social worker," he observed.
He pointed out that in such instances, should a pupil misbehave, the teacher can report the matter to the school's social worker who should, in turn, investigate and try to correct the pupil, in cooperation and coordination with the parents.
Meanwhile, Omar's mother said she had discovered the bruises on her son's arm accidentally when the child was taking a bath. "My son was shy to show me the bruises and hesitated to tell me the reason when I asked him.
"He then told me the Arabic teacher had beaten him with a metal tool, adding that the teacher had been beating him for a long time, but he had been too scared to tell me because, in a previous incident, an English language teacher who had beaten him thereafter blamed Omar for telling me about it."
She added that even while the complaint was under investigation, the Arabic language teacher did not give any excuse or seek a reconciliation. "Instead, she abused me and said my son would suffer heavenly retribution should I pursue the matter in court."
The school principal was not available for comment.