When discipline in schools goes too far

Is there a need to reassess discipline in Nigeria schools? I think so.

During a conversation a few months ago, my sister mentioned my nephew was slapped at school where he is doing his A Levels. My nephew called his mother immediately after he was slapped by the housemaster because he thought it was uncalled for. My inlaw called the school to hear the other side of the story, the school administrator’s explanation was as my nephew had stated, the case was left hanging – not much of apology, more of emphasis on what the boy did wrong. He was home for a week holiday and still could feel the pain three days after the incident that requires pain relief.

My sister was not happy but didn’t want to call the school because exams is coming up. Nephew is fine, however there was a need to clear the air.

I was curious to know what my nephew did to deserve a slap, the type we call ‘dirty slap’ in Nigeria. The explanation given to my mind is just too flimsy for the punishment given.

So I called the school.

According to the school administrator, the story goes that there was a problem that needs resolving at the hostel so boarders were called to come downstairs for a meeting. My nephew was the last one to get downstairs, this angered the housemaster hence the slap.

The school did nothing to hear the boy’s side of the story or provide comfort, instead she was comparing my nephew with his cousin who is ‘well behaved girl’.

Here I cut in. ‘foot dragging?’ I continue to let the lady understand how absurd it sounds that a post secondary school establishment could not find better ways to make students in their care adjust their behaviour without resorting to violence.

The lady tried so hard to defend the housemaster’s attitude. Then I cited a few examples within the region where students have been put through needless sufferings due to adults’ temper. She was able to see my points. She apologised and said the case has been resolved.

If a child was slapped and still feels the pain a couple of days later, suppose he has permanent damage to his eardrum, should he just live with that? My sister was perfectly happy for her son to stay at home to redo his JAMB this year. I was the one who went out of my way to convince ‘sell’ an A levels – god forbid anything happens, my name is on the line.

With this in mind, I decided to call the school owner/director just to be sure my message was taken. He was aware of the case. He said the housemaster was new ands with them temporarily. I told the owner of my disappointment of them using physical violence towards A levels students. I made known to him that if in the near future my nephew has any problem with his ear on the side he was slapped, he should be prepared that we are coming after him.

He apologised in a way that I feel he meant it. I was pleased.

Initially, I did not want to make these calls as I don’t want my nephew isolated, then I realised this is the same reason kids get ill-treated in our schools. We seldom report serious issue at the onset and often leave things until it get way out of hand.

While I was thinking of my 17 year old nephew. My mind went to a 14 year old girl in the same city who was slapped by the school secretary a couple of years ago. The girl’s eye literally popped out of the socket. Sadly she passed away due to infection on the eye and lack of proper care immediately after the incident. We didn’t hear anything about this secretary, not in the press at least.

We are not in shortage of horror stories due to corporal punishment in Nigeria schools. Another girl was blinded by a school teacher  with cane for being late to school in Kaduna in February.

These are a few we hear about, those that were bullied to silence are unaccounted for.

How do we get schools and teachers to think about consequences of their behaviour – well, parents need to share stories such as these so we all can help get more attention to dangerous and unwanted treatment of students in schools.

As Nigeria goes, assault in schools can happen to just about anyone.

My nephew is totally fine. Housemaster moved to a different hostel, which I think is amusing. I hope he has learned better ways to vent his frustration.

20 thoughts on “When discipline in schools goes too far

  1. Thank you FK!
    That’s how my daughter reported to me (Oba, picks her from school but she didn’t tell him because I’m the action one) that her headteacher use the stick on her knuckles because her nails were long. Long not dirty.

    Oba, is meant to address him (I’m not sure he did) I decided to let it slide because I’ve told her severally to avoid anything that will get her into trouble. So we are applying every week nail-cutting or every 2 days as her nail grows like mine.

    Trust me, I’ve ‘discussed’ with him a few times, so he knows I don’t buy into flogging them on my behalf.

    What an excuse to give a slap he has been planning to deliver for a while now. Hmmm. I’m glad you reminded him that your nephew has family, not just parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Queen! Good to hear from you.

      Can you believe that? Hitting a little girl’s knuckles because of nail growth, how about making her write a note to her parents as a reminder? Shame on that teacher. Good for you for talking with the teacher because I think sometimes they tend to think parents are indifference to that kind of punishment.

      See I told Yeye she would never survive a day in a Nigerian school, she didn’t believe me 🙂

      I think you are right about the silly house master, he has a complex…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Violence is definitely not the answer. If the teacher tried that in Britain, they would be slapped or punched back in return, the teacher would most likely lose their job. That is how seriously the matter is taken.
    Authority figures in Nigeria take liberties with people, rather than let their emotions get the better of them, they should talk the issue through.
    I heard of an account whereby the son of a distant friend, was in Nigeria and died at the hands of teacher after a severe beating. The father was in England and had to travel back for the burial. If corporal punishment had been outlawed in Nigeria, then no child would die or be injured unnecessarily.
    The society is a violent society – which is not a good thing, but it is accepted and held as a virtue, it is in urgent need of correction.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. in my opinion, in the society we live in that is steadily advancing in technology and in knowledge, I don’t think there should be any acceptable means of physical punishment and discipline in schools any longer. while we cannot abolish it from the family setting under the talk that it is the African culture to discipline warring children by inflicting physical pain(how absurd that sounds), it is best that it is abolished from schools across Nigeria. For one, the teachers who are going to be licensed to execute this punishment would have various sense of judgement as to when the punishment is enough and not extreme. Are we going to leave children at the mercy of whatever sense of reasoning that each teacher would posses? And if not for anything, the past experiences of accidents resulting from corporal punishment should be enough pointer to the fact that this age is over. Nice job on this post by the way
    Truth Zombie

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my!! In my lil red dot there is no such thing as hurting any student. Our parents would sue the teacher or headmaster and or it is published in the papers. Your poor nephew being slapped at that age is uncalled for and I am glad you stepped in to wrangle an apology. Thankfully no injury!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.

      Where there is no consequences for wrongdoings, people tend to go from bad to worse. Nigerians love to quote your well loved leader Lee Kuan Yew. Hopefully soon, we will copy the principles he stood for too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. HI Fola, the discipline in your schools sounds extreme and dangerous. In Canada, a teacher would be charged with assault if that took place consequently teachers have very little available to them in the discipline tactics. As a result of this, some students have become embolden because they know nothing much will happen to them. Both extremes are bad. Surely there is some way to find a balance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally agree that both extremes are bad and create more needless headaches for everyone involved. Finding balance can be tricky, but I sure hope corporal punishment is outlawed in Nigeria schools as it is open too much abuse.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for writing this story. I had NO idea that this was allowed in Nigeria. I am very happy to hear that your nephew is fine and the housemaster has moved. I cannot imagine such a thing since in the US this would be unheard of. The rights of children must be protected. A school is a place that SHOULD be safe for them. How just absolutely outrageous this is allowed to happen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Corporal punishment is allowed in Nigeria schools, yardstick for acceptable form of ‘physical combat’ depends on teacher’s mood. In very serious cases, teachers/ schools go scot free leaving parents to pick up pieces.
      It is indeed outrageous, but yet my people call it discipline…


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