By Theresa Goodwin
The Director of Education has assured that ministry officials will be conducting a thorough investigation into a report that an eight-year-old Parham Primary School student suffered serious injuries due to a thrashing she received at the hands of a male teacher on Friday.
This is the second time in less than a week that such incidents have been reported in the media, and the Director, Clare Browne, also assured that appropriate actions will be taken as necessary.
Yesterday, he told our newsroom he was only made aware of the latest incident after the media shared photos of the injuries that the grade 3 child sustained. He said he has since reached out to the school’s management team and a detailed report of the incident is expected to be shared with him today.
Earlier, on Sunday, the child’s mother was obviously upset when she told our newsroom she was contemplating taking legal action against the teacher, and indicated that this was not the first such issue she has been forced to deal with.
In relation to the Friday morning incident, the woman said she found out only after she received a call, in afternoon, from the educator, who said that he had had to discipline the student for reportedly shoving another pupil and, as a result of the beating, she received “a small bruise” to her leg.
The woman said the teacher also apologised, and claimed that he was merely disciplining the child and never intended to cause her harm. She he also informed her that it was only after punishing her daughter that they discovered she was not at fault.
The mother said she accepted the apology and thought nothing much about the incident. However, she said she was shocked when she went to collect the child from the bus stop and observed that she was limping as she exited the school bus. The child was also complaining of severe pain to her left leg and buttocks.
“As she reached the vehicle, she told me her leg was hurting to the point that she cannot walk. When she entered the car, she lifted up her skirt and showed me her leg which was swollen and I asked her what happened,” the woman said.
Recounting the incident from her daughter’s standpoint, the woman said that her daughter said she was shoved by another child while they were in an assembly line, and this caused her to jerk forward and she bumped into another child who was directly in her path.
“She said she was disciplined by the male teacher afterwards in the presence of the vice principal. She said she received about five lashes and was sent to her class. After a good 10 minutes, her class teacher realised she was in pain and asked her what happened, and she told the class teacher.
“When the teacher lifted up her skirt and saw the swollen leg she went and called the male teacher who did the beating. He apparently returned with ice and an antibiotic ointment and started applying it to the leg,” the irate mother stated.
The woman said she is rather disturbed by the incident, which is not the first encounter between her daughter and this particular teacher, and she intends to pursue the matter further. The woman said in the past she has reported different matters to the police.
In reference to this latest incident, she has since sought medical care for the child and has made an official report to the Police Headquarters and the Parham Police Station and law enforcement officers have since contacted the educator, who has reportedly admitted that he is at fault.
She was also asked to report to the school this morning to seek further audience with the administrators. The woman also revealed that her child is still in pain and is having difficulty sitting because of the injury to her buttocks.
The bruise on the child’s leg has also turned black, she added.
The Ministry of Education is also investigating another incident which occurred last week, and left a St Michael’s Primary school student bleeding and bruised after she was beaten by a teacher.
On Friday, Director Browne said a meeting will be held this morning with the principal, the teacher in question, the parent, and her 12-year-old daughter.
Meanwhile, Browne said the Ministry of Education has made it clear, verbally and written, that the policy in dealing with the discipline of children emphasises Positive Behavior Management (PBM) put out daily on various radio and television stations.
“The PBM approach emphasises prevention, support of students, avoiding confronting with students and focusing of the development of values, relationships, and skill building,” the director noted.
“Although section 50 of the Education Act, 2008 allows for corporal punishment to be administered where no other punishment is considered suitable or effective, it can only be done lawfully by the principal, deputy principal or any teacher appointed by the principal for that purpose in accordance with the law,” he said.
The director also pointed out that the guidelines within the law, while they may cause anxiety in the public, are intended to restrict the use of the last resort punishment and aim to protect children from injurious or degrading punishment.
The law, he said, is intended to protect the principal, deputy principals, and teachers as well as to promote transparency and accountability.