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Eradication of corporal punishment in schools

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By Mercy Kelani

Stakeholders in the education sector have different opinions about this action.

A teacher, Mrs. Shola Agidigan, who teaches in a school in FESTAC, lamented that students are leveraging on the fact that all forms of corporal punishments are being eliminated in Lagos State. As a result, they now behave in a way that is uncontrollable. The instructor further lamented that teachers are not allowed to be seen with a cane in the school premises, let alone beating a child with it for the purpose of punishment and instilling discipline.

Mrs. Agidigan further stated, quoting the United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), that corporal punishment is an action carried out with the intention of causing physical pain or discomfort without injuries. She said Nigeria is imitating the western culture which is believed to permit children in schools to insult and slap their teachers without punishment. In her words, many things will go wrong if Nigeria keeps treading this path and the society will suffer the impacts.

85% of school children aged 1-14 are victims of violent discipline.

However, the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Folashade Adefisayo, asserted that the action is important for aversion of the terrible incident where corporal punishment led to the death of a student. She spoke on the topic titled “Corporal Punishment in the Modern African Setting” with a sub-theme “Examining the Scientific Evidence behind Corporal punishment”. Speaking on the topic, she said that there are diverse alternative ways to instill discipline and correct children in schools, although she refused to mention any.

President of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Samuel Aladejare, said corporal punishment was one of the trending issues in the society for its rampancy in schools, homes and work places and should be ended. UNICEF’s Chief of Education, Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan, stated that about 85 percent of school children between the age ranges of 1 and 14 are victims of violent discipline in schools with one of every three children suffering severe actions, although she described elimination of corporal punishment as difficult and heart-breaking.

The practice impedes achievement of SDG 4 in the country.

According to Panday-Soobrayan, the continuous practice negates the country’s National Policy on Safety, Security and Violence-Free Schools which assures zero tolerance to any threat to the protection of lives and property in schools. Likewise, she stated that the practice is impeding the progress of Nigeria towards achievement of SDG 3 to foster good health and well-being; SDG 4 for achievement of equitable and inclusive quality education; and Target 16.2 to eradicate abuse, trafficking, exploitation and all forms of violence against children.

UNICEF revealed that physical punishment does not only cause pain, fear, anger, sadness and shame, but is also associated with the hyper-reactivity of children to stress overloaded nervous, nutritional and cardiovascular systems, and changes in brain structure and function. Several research have associated physical punishment with long-term disability or death, impaired cognitive and socio-emotional development, increase anti-social behavior, mental ill-health, aggression, school dropouts and poorer academic outcomes, criminal behavior in adulthood and damage relationship through its continuous happening.

Negative effects of this act outweigh the positive.

Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, approved the plan for putting an end to corporal punishment in schools in accordance with the Child’s Rights Act passed into law in 2003 to safeguard the right of children to a violence-free life. The Registrar of Teachers Registration Council in Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, stated that the effect of the practice on pupils has caused a paradigm shift from it. He added that it has more negative consequences than positive during the process of teaching and learning.

Related Link

Endcorporalpunishment: Website

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