Author Archives: Tobi Oyefeso

About Tobi Oyefeso

I am a socio-legal researcher, a child rights advocate, an inspirational and lifestyle blogger. I document my life journey including my Ph.D. journey on my blog and help people pursue their dreams.

SCHOOL IN OGUN STATE SUSPENDS TEACHER OVER CORPORAL PUNISHMENT INFLICTED ON THREE-YEAR OLD GIRL

A teacher, Mrs. Odunola Taiwo of Adeoye International School, located in the Iyana Iyesi, in the Ota area of Ogun State, South-West, Nigeria has been suspended over allegations of inflicting corporal punishment on three year old Chizaram Ebere. Her mother, Elizabeth Ebere reports that the beating resulted in sickness for her daughter.
The incident which occured on the 28th of October, 2021, also led to the infliction of marks on the legs of the three year old which according to her teacher were due to the fact that the girl failed to write that day.


In a later development however, the Commissioner for Education in Ogun State, Professor Abayomi Arigbabu in a meeting with the management of Adeoye International School issued a stern warning to teachers across the state to eliminate the practice of corporal punishment because it had the propensity to lead to graver consequences like the loss of vital body parts, death, reduction of a child’s confidence while ultimately tarnishing the image of the state.


He stated in clear terms that the government will never condone any corrective action that will inflict pain or injury on a child while mandating teachers to adopt more humane methods of discipline and school administrators to institute trainings to ensure same.
The government’s directive is hopefully a ray of hope in the march towards eliminating corporal punishment which for so long has remained a dangerous cankerwork that has eaten deeply into the fabric of the Nigerian society.

REFERENCES
Mariam Ileyemi, “School Suspends Teacher As Ogun Government Issues Stern Warning” Premium Times Newspapers (November 11, 2021)
Ishola Oludare, “Stop Beating Children, Ogun Teachers Warned” Daily Post (November 11, 2021)

TRANSITIONING THROUGH THE FOUR LEVELS OF COMPETENCES

Hi there! Have you observed that whenever you are trying to do something for the first time – something as routine as trying to tie your shoelace, walking for the first time or other things like starting out on a new project, learning a new skill, starting a new business and so on- there are four stages that you go through. These stages are also called the four levels of competences and they apply consciously or unconsciously.

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The first stage is the stage of UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE. At this stage, you are not even aware that the skill you are trying to learn or the activity you are trying to do exists. You don’t know anything about it yet.

The next stage is the stage of CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE. At this stage, you are now aware that the skill you are trying to learn exists but you still have not mastered it yet. Here, you only suddenly realize that there is indeed something you do not know or something that you have not mastered.

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At the next stage which is called the stage of CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE, you have submitted yourself to the demands of learning that skill and you are beginning to get familiar with it. The draw back however is that you still require a lot of time and attention to operate the skill or to do the activity.

The final stage is the stage of UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE. At this stage, you have attained mastery and you do the activity without conscious thought. It does not take you so much time and attention, compared to what it took you before, to get the activity done.

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Sometimes, the transition through the four stages may feel like a demanding process but you just have to stick it out. Do not forget that in the race between the stream and the rock, the stream wins not because of strength but because of persistence.

YOU WERE NOT RAISED YOU WERE ERASED

My parent raised me with severe corporal punishment, therefore I will discipline my child using corporal punishment.

The above phrase is what most African parents use as their justification for the use of corporal punishment on their children, student or ward. Some parents further argue that the use of corporal punishment on them has made them who they are today. I often ask the question “Who are you now? What has corporal punishment made you become? The answer I often get is that- corporal punishment has made me very disciplined and focused in life. Yet, you are not as successful as you’ve always wanted to be in life, you are not a trust worthy person. Wait… do you think the children raised without corporal punishment are ill-mannered? I bet not, because the societies that are against corporal punishment are the world leading countries with less violence. We need to understand that violence and discipline are two different things. When you decide to make it a norm then you have decided to accept violence such as killing, fighting, slaughtering, raping, bullying and all other forms of violence into the society.

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I laugh really hard when I meet monster parents and not disciplined parents. How can a mother cut her child’s skin or whip the child until he/she faint🤨. The joy that some parents have when they instill fear or pain on their children is alarming. As a parent there is a certain period when you can no longer instill fear on that child, the reverse becomes the case and then, how will that make you feel?

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A child who thinks he/she was raised properly with corporal punishment was not raised but erased, because, that child grew up in fear without been able to make certain decisions or give opinions that affects his/her life. A child is not irrelevant, we need to understand that children are also humans and are kept in the care of an adult to guide them positively not abuse them.

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Feel free to share this blog post with friends, family and acquaintances. Also, share your thought or opinion in the comment section below.


FACT CHECK: HAS CORPORAL PUNISHMENT REALLY BEEN ABOLISHED IN NIGERIA?

There is some news going round in Nigeria to the effect that corporal punishment has been finally abolished. Speaking to a Nigeria-based newspaper outfit (Premium Times), one Vice-Principal of an Abuja based private school (name withheld) said exactly: “Following the Act of the Federal Ministry of Education, there is no more corporal punishment in schools. It is only the head teacher who is permitted to punish any child indicted of a grievous offence. Teachers or any other person are not allowed to give corporal punishment to students.”[1]

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A critical analysis of the statement will reveal some inherent contradictions. First, assuming but not conceding that an Act was passed; how effective is an Act that purports to abolish corporal punishment but does not do so completely. Clearly, from the statement above, the power to punish using corporal punishment is still vested in the head teacher. Herein lies the loophole; the power to inflict corporal punishment when vested in anyone – is easily susceptible to abuse and can easily be misused by an ill-intentioned head teacher. Not to be forgotten is the fact that corporal punishment generally can negatively affect learning outcomes by reducing enthusiasm for learning and increasing dejection in studies.[2]

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Again, one wonders whether it is within the purview of the Federal Ministry of Education to enact an Act. The making of Laws and Acts are a function of the legislature, particularly the House of Assemblies at the state level and the National Assembly at the Federal level respectively. At best, the Federal Ministry of Education can issue a policy banning corporal punishment but this cannot be as effective as a law banning corporal punishment. If corporal punishment is to be abolished in Nigeria, the proper procedure is for all the states’ Houses of Assembly as well as the National Assembly to clearly enact a law abolishing the same. This no doubt, is the way to go in protecting the psychology of young Nigerians and reforming the approach to correction in our homes and educational institutions.

THE REALITY

The reality is that corporal punishment is still part and parcel of the Nigerian legal system. Both legislations and decisions of the courts still support this assertion. A case in point is, Section 55 (1) of the Nigerian Penal Code which clearly states thus:

“Nothing is an offence which does not amount to the infliction of …grievous hurt upon a person and which is done –

  • By a parent or guardian for the purpose of correcting his child or ward; that child or ward being under eighteen years of age; or
  • By a schoolmaster for the purpose of correcting a child under eighteen years of age entrusted to his charge
  • By a master for the purpose of correcting his servant or apprentice, the servant or apprentice being under eighteen years of age; or
  • By a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife such husband and wife being subject to any customary law in which the correction is recognized as lawful.”
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The above cited law has not been repealed and the major disadvantage is the tendency that the discipline it allows might be stretched too far. There is clearly no yardstick for determining which level of grievous hurt will amount to an issue as sensitive as corporal punishment. By failing to delimit clear boundaries, the said law fails to outline which level of corporal punishment is permissible and justifiable.

The posture of the Nigerian Supreme Court also seems to disfavor the protection of children from corporal punishment. Particularly, the Nigerian case of Ekeogu v Aliri[3] appears to have given an imprimatur to the above legislation that allows corporal punishment. The occurrence in the case was thatthe teacher had earlier ordered his pupils on the 2nd of December, 1985 to go outside to witness how a mob was dealing with a thief so that they could gain some lessons on how to behave appropriately. To punish their failure to return the classroom on time, the teacher beat each of the pupils including the pupil who lost her eye. While the trial court held that the act was a crime, on appeal to the Supreme Court however, the judgment of the trial court was reversed on the questionable basis that the teacher was simply acting in the position of her parents (i.e. in loco parentis) by trying to ensure that he maintained an orderly and disciplined classroom.

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The Court said exactly, “What happened in this case was nothing more than the appellant discharging his duty and it was only a sheer accident that the child was hit in the eye resulting in its damage. I cannot discern any criminal intention on the part of the teacher.”[4] The teacher escaped liability, but an irreparable damage had been caused to the life of a young girl for a reason as trivial as returning a few minutes to class. Sadly, the court Supreme chose to be deliberately oblivious of the attendant violation of rights that accompany corporal punishment.

One really wonders how appropriate the description of the event as “a sheer accident” is. The infliction of corporal punishment begins substantially in the mind and the thoughts and intentions therein are virtually impossible to know.   By its actions or inactions therefore, the apex court of Nigeria was by implication, ratifying the draconian act of corporal punishment.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Going forward, both the legislature and executive (law making through policy and law making respectively) ought to give full force to the protection of children from torture so ably espoused in section 34 of the Nigerian constitution. The said section states that “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly – (a) no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment; (b) no person shall be held in slavery or servitude; and (c) no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.”

Again, courts and Nigerian judges, in the spirit of judicial activism should be pro-active when interpreting the laws and they should do so in a manner that is favourable to the abolition of corporal punishment. Going forward, it will be helpful for Nigeria’s highest court to revisit its decision in Ekeogu v Aliri,[5] with a view to altering the posture it took. Essentially, in the march towards the abolition of corporal punishment, all hands must be on deck. Every institution must move from promises to practices, commitments to concrete projects and from mere intentions to implementation.

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                                                REFERENCES

Azeezat Adedigba, ‘Teachers, Parents react as Nigerian Schools Gradually Abandon Corporal Punishment’ Premium Times Newspapers  (February 23, 2020)

Russow J., Learner Discipline in South African Public Schools; A Qualitative Study, (Koers Publishers, 2003)

Thomas J. Baechle, ‘Corporal punishment in schools: An Infringement on Constitutional Freedoms’ (1971) Cleveland State Law Review

United Nations, ‘UN Chief Calls for Domestic Violence ‘Ceasefire’ Amid Horrifying Global Surge’; https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061052> accessed 16 September, 2021

The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria

The Penal Code Act


[1] Azeezat Adedigba, ‘Teachers, Parents react as Nigerian Schools Gradually Abandon Corporal Punishment’ Premium Times Newspapers  (February 23, 2020)

[2] Russow J., Learner Discipline in South African Public Schools; A Qualitative Study, (Koers Publishers, 2003)

[3] lawcarenigeria.com/john-ekeogu-vs-elizabeth-aliri/

[4] supra

[5] lawcarenigeria.com/john-ekeogu-vs-elizabeth-aliri/

A BLACK TEENAGER WAS PINNED DOWN BY HIS TEACHER: CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

About a month and five days ago, (August 26, 2021) a video surfaced on the internet where a black teenager (16-year old Jamir Strane) was pinned down by his teacher (William Bennett) and pulled in his hair while the student screamed in pain. The boy reacted by punching the teacher in his face and has been charged for assault in addition to the ten days suspension meted out to him.

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The cause of the incident is that Strane was using a bandana as a mask for which he was castigated by his teacher who thought that he was deliquent. The teacher then referred to Strane as “Another Black Boy that Got Shot” The incident happened at Eric C. Moore High School in Louisville, Kentucky, United States.
Reacting to the incident, Renee Murphy who is Jefferson County Public School’s Spokeswoman noted that the teacher had been suspended from the classroom but reassigned to the district’s materials production department where he will be working on non-instructional duties.The lad’s mother, Erica Strane on her part started a Go Fund Me Page in furtherance of seeking justice for her son in the law courts and paying attendant legal fees.


Fervently do we hope however that there will be less altercations like that experienced between Jamir Strane and William Bennett in future. Fervently do we hope and earnestly do we crave a world where there is respect for the dignity of the human person so jealously guarded by Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR 1948) ; a world in which respect and love for one another is not just a carrot dangled in the faces of people, which they cannot eat; a world in which there is no disrespect on the basis of gender, social class or race. For the sake of clarity, Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights provides thus: “[a]ll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

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REFERENCES
Cedric “Big CED Thornton,” (August 16, 2021) Disturbing Video Shows Old White Teacher Fighting, Beating, Pulling Hair of Black Teen in Kentucky, https://www.blackenterprise.com/disturbing-video-shows-old-white-teacher-fighting-beating-pulling-hair-of-black-teen-in-kentucky/?test=prebid, assessed Friday 1st of October at 20:06


News Onyx (August 16, 2021) Black Student Gets into Fight With a Teacher After He Allegedly Said the Teen Would be “Just Another Black Boy Shot “https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.newsonyx.com/black-student-gets-into-fight-with-a-teacher-after-he-allegedly-said-the-teen-would-be-just-another-black-boy-shot/amp/assessed Friday 1st of October at 21: 06

United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, 1948