Earlier today I was conversing with a friend about his secondary education. He explained that during his JSS2, he once came to school late and was asked to close up a deep pit with his fellow latecomers after which they were compelled to sign an undertaken that if they ever came late to school again they would be expelled.
His story reminded me of a classmate I had back in primary school who was usually flogged everyday for coming late and always sleeping in class, one day while we were playing we asked her why she always comes late to class, she childishly explained that she had to fetch water with gallons very early in the morning amidst other chores she playfully added that we were over-pampered and incapable of doing all the work she does( she was a househelp). Being kids, we didn’t really understand.
These scenarios prompted this write up.
Times and again children are punished for failing exams and other “crimes” without anyone trying to find out what is really going on with the child.
As an advocate of punctuality and good behavior, I fully understand the importance of instilling these habits at a tender age. However, the fact remains that some of these children are not directly responsible for the crimes they are being punished for.
It could be from parents/guardians financial or it could be anything. The reason can only be found out by asking questions instead of going ahead to flog the “demons” out of them (sometimes even pouring out personal frustrations on the child). During the course of interrogation, you might find out very disturbing truths.
The child that is being punished in school may be facing domestic abuse or various forms of violence at home and probably sees school as their “safe haven”. Simply paying attention to him/her and finding out exactly why he/she isn’t meeting up may go a long way in saving the child.
The excessive undeserved punishment metted out on kids is probably the reason a lot of Nigerians are angry and defensive all the time.
In more organized countries, schools sometimes summon parents and guardians to report children and find out what is going on with them and why they have “misbehaved”.
It is about time schools, ministries of education adopted the same method; while also prioritizing the importance of employing teachers that managing children with empathy and not just anyone with academic qualifications or setting up avenues to train teachers on the importance of empathizing with children.
This would go a long way in developing a child’s empathy and their mental health generally.