In a horrific incident of alarming brutality, a class six student, M. Hassan, was allegedly beaten to death by his teacher in a village of Rahim Yar Khan. A school is not a torture cell in which students are to be subjected to the most hideous of punishments. How a place of learning and personal development was turned into a death trap is a moment of shame for the entire nation, and hence it is the collective responsibility of all to make sure that no future student has to go through that ever again. Why a teacher allegedly decided to mete out such inhumane punishment to a student cannot in any circumstance be justified. Nor can it be possibly explained. The killing of Hassan at the hands of a teacher is an extreme manifestation of a practice that is normal in Pakistan’s public as well as government schools. Not only does corporal punishment exist in Pakistan, but it is often encouraged. And it is the normalisation of such archaic methods of teaching that the teacher in Hassan’s case allegedly did not only have the temerity to beat him up but did so with such severity.
In lieu of addressing the underlying structural issues of Pakistan’s public schools, laws against corporal punishment would fail to have the intended effect. Pakistan’s public schools are underfunded and under-equipped. To make matters worse, Pakistan’s public school teachers are paid a pittance. These are hardly ideal conditions for attracting qualified teachers, let alone competent ones. Hence, most of the individuals who do end up teaching at these schools are wedded to archaic teaching practices and ignorant of the disastrous consequences of corporal punishment. Their incompetency at getting their subject matter across to students and their use of corporal punishment to subsequently mask their own failure can only have disastrous consequences for their students. All of this points to the need for a twofold approach that both addresses the paucity of funds in the education sector and the problem of under qualified teachers. Government has to allocate more funds to make public schools better facilities and to give public school teachers better salaries. This should go hand in hand with teacher training programs in which teachers are educated the correct way of dealing with their students.