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Corporal punishment in Nigerian schools

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By Mercy Kelani

UNICEF and the ministry of education set to put an end to corporal punishment.

At a two-day National Awareness Creation Meeting on Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools, set up by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), in collaboration with UNICEF, the Chief of Education of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan, revealed that over 85 percent of Nigerian children from age 1 to 14 suffer violent discipline in schools by having to endure severe physical punishment. The statistic of children who experience these punishments is alarming, therefore, urgent action should be taken before it turns out to be a crisis.

Corporal punishment is a physical punishment with the motive of causing physical pain to a person. In many occasions, when it is a child that is being corrected, either in a home or school setting, the method is usually spanking or paddling. It is believed that it is a form of discipline that sets clear boundaries and motivations for children, when used in moderation. Although in about 63 countries, mostly Europe and Latin America, corporal punishment has been banned in the home and at school.

The decision to end corporal punishment seems difficult.

Many of the violent discipline inflicted on the children occurs under the guise of corporal punishment in educational institutes that are established for the safety of children, development of respect for Human Rights and preparation of the children for life in a society that encourages peace, understanding, and conflict resolution through dialogue. However, the deliberation on putting an end to corporal punishment in schools is a difficult decision to make, even though the presence of participants at the meeting suggest their focus to protect the right of every child to safety, well-being, and quality education.

The Chief of Education, UNICEF, further stated that the continuance of violent discipline in schools disagrees with the National Policy on Safety, Nigeria; Security and Violence-Free Schools, and its commitment to zero tolerance to any form of threat to the security of life and property in schools. Also, she urged that the practice of monitoring Nigeria’s progress toward SDG 3 to achieve good health and well being, and SDG 4 concerning equitable and inclusive education, is emphasized.

Adamu Adamu endorsed the action plan to end corporal punishment.

In addition, with reference to the Child’s Right Act that was passed into law in 2003, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu , represented by Hajia Binta Abdulkadir, approved the action plan and roadmap for putting an end to corporal punishments in schools. With this action, children’s rights are being protected, so as to enable them to live a life void of any form of violence, and instilled with positive impacts on school attendances, learning, and results.

Although, studies have proven in Nigeria, that corporal punishment is one of the major factors that fights against retention and transition of students in schools, with great implications on the Educational System and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4); the Registrar of TRCN, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, also revealed the presence of the paradigm shift from corporal punishment in schools, due to its negative effects on pupils, and its inefficiency towards maintaining behavior and discipline.

Learning should be positive for children, and not traumatic.

According to Prof. Ajiboye, the negative outcomes of corporal punishments outweigh the positive outcomes, during the course of teaching and learning. Otherwise, the learning experience of children is supposed to be fun and positive without any form of traumatic experience. To crown it all, the World Bank Senior Education Specialist, Prof. Tunde Adekola, amidst emphasizing the need to urgently implement the action plan against corporal punishment in Schools, said that according to the global bank, there exists a correlation between learning, poverty, and corporal punishment.


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