It was May 9, the birthday of eight-year-old Yasin, a student at residential Markazul Islami Academy Hafezia Madrasha in Hathazari Upazila of Chattogram. Like all other kids of his age, he was missing his parents and eagerly waiting for them.
His parents came and gave him some toys. When they were leaving, he followed them – a very common action expected from an eight-year-old child.
What happened next was an ephialtes – his teacher Maulana Yahya dragged him by the neck into a room and beat him mercilessly with a cane. A viral video on Facebook showed that the child's heart-rending screaming could not stop the barbarous maulana.
Yasin's only "crime" was that he went outside of the madrasa premises while following his parents when they were leaving him.
Fortunately, the Upazila administration, after being informed of the matter, rescued the boy and detained the teacher.
Although the government introduced laws and took other measures to discourage corporal punishment and physical abuse in educational institutes, especially at primary and secondary levels. In the past, for example, the government directed to hang the notice of banning physical punishment in the headmaster's room of all primary schools so that all teachers and guardians see it every day.
A 2011 circular by the education ministry banned corporal punishment in educational institutes, and the draft Education Act also seeks to impose a ban on corporal punishment and mental torture by teachers.
However, the number of incidents has not stopped. Researchers said physical punishment is still going on in 35% of 64,000 primary schools. The government itself agreed that despite the directive not to beat children was introduced in 1978, many headmasters do not know about it.
A survey on seven divisions by the Campaign for Popular Education reveals that 50% of students in primary schools are still victims of corporal punishment.
Data from nine national dailies reveals that 21 children have been tortured only during the three months from January to March this year in educational institutes including madrasa and safe homes. Besides, 20 students were raped and sexually harassed.
Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum data shows that from January to June 2018, 69 children became victims of physical abuse in educational institutions in Bangladesh. Besides, an assistant teacher in a Sirajganj school beat 150 students in 2013 and around 30 students could not attend classes after being beaten.
Beating a student is not acceptable at all in a civilised society and it is considered a criminal offence and must be brought to justice under the prevailing laws of the country.
Despite having relevant laws, lax monitoring systems in educational institutions and guardians' indifference help increase various types of torturing incidents of students. Moreover, many parents believe that if children are not physically punished when they do wrong their personal development will suffer.
Moreover, there is a tendency among parents not to lodge any formal complaint or file a case against this type of incident. Yasin's parents also decided not to lodge a complaint or take legal action against the teacher, Maulana Yahya.
It is not pragmatic to expect flawless and disciplined behaviour from a child similar to that of an adult. It is the responsibility of teachers to inject good social and moral qualities into the students' minds by motivating them and setting an exemplary attitude for them.
The government, non-government organisations and social organisations should address these issues to ensure these types of incidents are reported and proper legal actions are taken.
It should also be ensured that teachers, who practise these types of cruelty towards students, do not get impunity because of their profession. They should be brought to book as per the Code of Criminal Procedure in the country.
An individual's behaviour largely depends on various social, psychological, and financial issues. Instead of indiscriminate criticism, proper direction and training are required to improve the skills of the teachers.
We have to take into consideration how much a teacher is paid and whether or not the amount is enough to lead a decent life with his family. Without ensuring mental and physical well-being, it cannot be ensured that a teacher delivers proper service in the rigorous and stressful task of teaching children.
Besides introducing laws, the government can ensure that teachers are provided proper counselling from experienced and professional counsellors and training on educational and behavioural psychology. And the guardians should also be educated that beating cannot bring anything good for a child at all. Instead, it may have a very negative long-lasting effect on their minds.
Primary education is thought to be the most precious time for an individual. In the UK and USA, a teacher must have a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree for teaching from kindergarten to XII.
About the social and emotional development of an eight-year-old child, the BabyCentre says a child of that age is "prone to mood swings and melodramatics and extremely impatient and may have a hard time waiting for special events, such as Christmas".
Secondly, an eight-year-old kid wants to be with his parents and siblings. According to recent research, when a parent or a family member hugs a kid or touches with affection, it has an immense healing power which is essential in terms of their proper mental development, nurturing sympathy and empathy.
On the other hand, several researchers have claimed that students or children, who experience violent behaviour and cruelty in their childhood, are likely to behave aggressively when they grow older.
So, proper policymaking by involving experts, proper monitoring to ensure that those are implemented and prompt actions against child abuse can help minimise these unwanted incidents.
Harun Md Shahed Bin Naim is a subeditor at The Business Standard.