THE government circular banning the use of physical punishment in schools is admittedly a judicious decision.
Such a step from the appropriate authority was becoming a necessity with every passing day, especially against the backdrop of growing number of reports on school children in the capital as elsewhere being subjected to physical abuse at the hands of their teachers.
The use of physical punishment in schools to discipline children was a more or less accepted practice in the past. But in recent times, it has lost its context, if only because the environment and the psychosocial conditions under which a modern-day child grows up have undergone a sea change. As a result, after such kind of punishment, these children react in a way that is quite different from their predecessors'. It is not only that the victim schoolchildren may suffer damage to their sensitive organs. It has also been observed that the students thus being abused at school become violent and often mentally disturbed. In extreme cases, they demonstrated suicidal tendencies or even worse, they became revengeful on their teachers. These are certainly very dangerous trends and are harmful for the physical and mental growth of the future generations.
So, the timeworn practice of using rod to prevent the students from getting spoiled was already due for a decent burial. From this point of view, the government ban on corporal punishment in schools has only gone to complete a task that has long become overdue.
Now that the government has tasked the district education officers and upazila secondary education officers to take legal or departmental action against the teachers found violating the government order, the teachers would naturally become discouraged to go for such illegal option in the class room.
But there is a need for training the teachers in modern methods of teaching through persuasion and setting of examples, rather than resorting to the cane or other harsh means. In addition, counselling of the teachers would also be necessary so that they might be attuned to the new outlooks and attitudes of a teacher in a modern classroom environment.
Traditionally, classroom education has been rather boring to the children. Which is why so far the rates of truancy and dropouts were on the higher side especially in the rural schools. So, under this changed system of disciplining children, the teachers will have to work harder to learn the art of teaching in a more interesting manner by making use of persuasion and demonstration.