Last Sunday, pictures of secondary school students of a Nasarawa school were shown on TV where they were being flogged brutally by a teacher. Their crime? They came late to school on the first day of resumption. They were being flogged, not on their palms or buttocks, as is often the style, but they were smacked on their backs; both boys and girls.
The sordid show which was filmed by a teacher who was said to be unhappy with the development, sparked off a huge uproar, with the Nasarawa State Government banning corporal punishment in schools in the state thereafter, while the teacher, the principal of the school and another teacher, were suspended.
The Nasarawa incident has once more opened up the debate on the propriety or otherwise of corporal punishment in schools in the country.
In the developed world, there is nothing like corporal punishment. Students, no matter what they do, are spared the rod. While it can be argued in some quarters that sparing the rod often spoils the child, yet others argue that doing so allows the child to develop maturely.
But then, it is believed that what is good and practicable in one country, may not be in another. In Africa, it is believed that part of the training of the child involves disciplining such a child, which ranges from beating to flogging, as happened in Nasarawa.
But then again, does the need to enforce discipline warrant the kind of brutal force used on the students in the Nasarawa school? Must students be bullied and mauled for them to become better students?
What we saw in the video clip was to say the least, shocking. It was nothing short of brutality and an experience that will only succeed in hardening the students and ultimately turning them to sadists in future. It was as if the teacher doing the flogging was venting his frustrations on the hapless students whose fault was coming late at a time the fuel crisis was at its height.
We think the education managers in the country should devise other means of instilling discipline in students, rather than treating them like common criminals. It is not for us to prescribe the appropriate regime of punishments to erring students. The education managers should do so and ensure it is adhered to.
In the past, some students and pupils had sustained severe injuries from such mindless beating. It had also caused altercations between parents and teachers. Not long ago, a parent whose child was flogged in a school in Anambra State, stormed that school to retaliate, leading to the death of the teacher.
For sure, students and pupils should be punished for wrong doing; but it is certainly not in the manner we saw in the video clip. A child treated like a common criminal will grow up not appreciating humanity, and this is therefore why every care should be taken to manage students effectively while in their early stages so that they grow up behaving and thinking like rational beings.