Opinion

Are teachers in Ghana allowed to head butt students?

A teacher in Ghana has headbutted a student in a struggle that mimicked a boot camp drill at Bondase. The teacher also ripped apart the student’s attire with a knife or scissors. The incident caught on camera is now globe-trotting on the social media. It’s understood the student didn’t wear the prescribed school uniform.

So, is this a new norm? Where ‘s this barbaric and uncouth act coming from?

Indeed, there are some images or videos one cannot ignore them when they catch the eyes and register on the mind. The above subject happens to be one of such images. They may not be the most beautiful or compelling, the ugliest or goriest the worst or best that often grab the headlines and generate controversy or a spat. However, they tell their own stories anyhow.

How ironic it is that many a time we see such images on the social media or around us and we think it isn’t our responsibility to shed light on them. What even compounds the situation(s) is simply this: we assume that somebody somewhere would take care of such problems but actually nobody does nothing about them. And before long they get out of hand and hit the roof.

Are teachers in Ghana allowed to head butt students?

Not at all. And I can state emphatically that headbutt has no place in Ghana’s schools ‘vocabulary’. Paradoxically, the rogues have come to town. School Corporal Punishment which used to be in prevalent many years ago has been outlawed. It’s believed all teachers and educational workers are aware of the law.

“The Ghana Education Service has warned teachers, educational workers and staff of public and private educational institutions who resort to corporal punishment to stop, since corporal punishment in public and private schools is illegal and will not be tolerated in any form.”

This is in line with the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC), which was ratified in Ghana in 1990 and the children Act of 1998 (Act 560). In March 2017 GES issued the directive or warning when its attention was drawn to the banned practice.

“It was becoming public knowledge that teachers continued to apply the cane even though the GES had banned the practice,” a statement from the service noted.

What is punishment in school?
“School corporal punishment refers to causing deliberate pain or discomfort in response to undesired behaviour by students in schools. It often involves striking the student either across the buttocks or on the hands ,with an implement such as rattan cane wooden paddle,,slipper leather strap or wooden yardstick.’

So if GES has been explicit on the ban why are some teachers flouting the law?

On Monday June 11, 2018 I chanced upon that video which is trending on the New Media. The teacher asks for a knife as he and his colleague wrestle the teenage student. Both teachers are seen in the short video man handling the student. One of the teachers head butts the skinny boy and as they continue to rough him up.

What’s his crime and what’s the knife for? Indeed what he does next together with his accomplice is beyond comprehension. It looks so disturbing to say the least. They ‘re seen standing over the student, heckle him like a prophet ready to face martyrdom.

‘Sir I’m not being stubborn”, pleads the student. But his plea hits on deaf ears. His attackers (the teachers) have no mercy. They appear so outraged as though the boy has committed a heinous crime that must go unpunished.

“Hey ma me knife no,’ (meaning give me the knife) one of the teachers is heard in vernacular. He asked for a knife and as if the incident had been choreographed someone readily hands him the knife. The teenage student name unknown is roughed up by the two grownups—school teachers until they succeeded to rip apart his school uniform. This is somebody’s kid. How would they feel if someone subjects their kids into this kind of treatment?

Luckily a Good Samaritan supposedly a student recorded the incident, it would have gone unnoticed and these two idiots would perpetrate this uncivilized act..

Where is corporal punishment in schools legal?
Corporal punishment is still practised in many countries including some developed democracies. In the United States corporal punishment is still used in schools to a significant (though declining) extent in some public schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee,, North Carolina and Texas. The most recent states to outlaw school corporal punishment was New Mexico in 2011.

Center for Effective Discipline in 19 states in the US, makes it illegal for teachers or principals to punish public school students by hitting them repeatedly instead of just giving them detention. “In practice it’s becoming less common for schools to administer corporal punishment—even states that technically allow it,” the center notes.

Finally, I will like to end this piece with an appeal to the honourable Minister of Education Matthew Opoku Prempeh, I beseech thee Sir, with this humble plea. I ‘m also appealing to the minister responsible for Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), the Ghana Education Service (GES) and all stakeholders to as matter of urgency look into this matter.

I’m also asking parents of the boy and all parents who have their children and wards in this particular school whichever part in Ghana it’s located to bring pressure to bear on the school authority to take immediate action on the issue. I think they (the teachers) should be handed over to the police on assault charge. That’s exactly what they’ve done to this young man.

Gordon Offin-Amaniampong

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