By Haseeb Khawaja
When we discuss schooling in Pakistan, not only the ignorant mullahs (religious teachers) from madrassas (religious schools) are extremists but teachers from common schools are also no less radical in their approach.
Few months back, female students were inhumanly treated by Government-teachers in the school which is really a shameful act for the whole nation. 14 students of grade 8 of Government Girls Elementary School, Pinwaal (Village of District Chakwal, Punjab, Pakistan) got low marks in a math test. The head mistress and class teacher punished the students, blackened their faces with dark ink and forced them to stand in front of other students for the rest of the day. At the end of school time the punished students were finally allowed to wash the faces and go home. They students were again threatened that the punishment will be even severer if they got lower marks next time.
Mere condemnation would not justify this act of inhumanity and barbarism. Such acts of barbarism are usually attributed to males and are not expected from women. Already, our image in the world is tarnished due to our own wrong deeds. Moreover, entire media reported this incident. Each day we send this message to the world that extremist are present in every walk of life in this Pakistani society. It is not the fault of foreign countries that hold a negative view about us; rather it is only us -Pakistanis- who are responsible for it.
These female students have become a laughing stock in their home town as apathetic Pakistani society enjoys making fun of others. This incident has maligned the dignity of these girls; going out from their home has become difficult for them now. Just a poor performance in a class test should not have elicited such atrocious attitude from the teachers. Were low marks in a class testing enough a crime for this kind of punishment? We must not accept such inhuman treatment with girls in schools in this modern era and, instead, silence from people is a criminal deed on such issues.
Imagine for a moment such kind of incident happening to your family member; what would have been your reaction?
Children meted with such treatment in their youth may direct them towards taking wrong steps after getting emotionally hurt and psychologically disturbed. Therefore, it can be disastrous for the individual and society as well.
People considers teacher as guide in Pakistani culture. Majority of Pakistani parents don’t coach their offspring but put this responsibility on teachers. So teacher is not only an instructor but also an educator and a mentor for students. It means when a teacher teaches a course he teaches his student how to think, differentiate between information and knowledge, and builds character of his students- acting as a mentor.
So teacher has a very significant and distinctive role in students’ character building. A teacher with good traits will generate good behavior in his students. In retrospect, if a teacher has immoral character, the coming generation will adopt its teachers character. It means consciously or unconsciously, the students are influenced by the code of conducts of their teachers. Teacher’s positive behavior has positive impact on students, and vice versa, teacher’s negative behavior has negative impact on the students’ growth. Their behaviors become a perpetual part of the students’ personality. In government schools, there are many teachers who are immoral in character and their behavior is inhumanly. The problem is not confined to one specific instead it can be witnessed all over Pakistan.
I am not sure why the majority of Pakistani population tries to exhibits its intelligence in negative activities. Since the schools have to adopt the Government’s policy slogan “Maar Nahn Pyar” (Translation: Beat Not but Care)”, they should adopt alternate ways of punishment. Only then can this incident of giving mental and emotional torture as punishment by blackening the faces of students can be avoided.
In this male dominated society rural girls are already facing extreme difficulties while getting basic education in Pakistan. Such kind of treatment is not acceptable under any kind of circumstances. Government of Pakistan must take notice of such immoral treatment meted on female students so that a lesson is taught to extremist teachers.
The responsibility of educating the upcoming generations is upon teachers. They will play a major role in the making of next generation whether it is extremists or peace loving human beings. Print and electronic media should also play an effective role in transforming these extremist teachers. Media should consider bringing this issue into their mainstream agenda and highlight this menace persistently. Alongside commercialism, media also has a role to play in the field of social responsibility which is far more important than ratings points and commercial profits.