Education

Stakeholders rise against teachers’ assaults, harassment

ASSAUL T

Critical stakeholders in the nation’s education sector, particularly teachers and proprietors, are worried over rising cases of attacks and harassment of teachers by parents and students, calling on the government to curb the alarming incidents in schools

 

˜NUT: Attacks on teachers‘ll be resisted

˜Governor’s aide blames incident on poor value system

˜Scenario exaggerated, say parents

 

The rising level of indiscipline in schools, culminating in a series of attacks and harassment of teachers in recent times, especially at primary and secondary schools with its alarming worrisome dimension, has continued to provoke concern among critical stakeholders in the nation’s education sector.

 

Recently, a 24-year-old female teacher at Divine Star Nursery and Primary School, Ado-Ekiti, Miss Oluwatomisin Janet, was physically attacked on December 7, last year, by the mother of one of her pupils with a heavy stick, leaving deep scars in her face. The teacher’s offence was that she scolded the pupil for her repeated refusal or failure to do her school assignments as alleged.

 

But, little did Oluwatomisin realise that her action would almost cause her, her life given the injuries inflicted on her. The mother of the pupil/child had stormed the school premises with her child to assault the teacher for daring to scold her child for failure to do her school assignment.

 

Aggrieved by the action of the teacher, the parent, the Proprietor of the school, Rev. Kehinde Ajayi said owed the school N24,000 school fees, came to the school with a stick, which she used to hit the teacher several times, accusing her of maltreating her child.

 

According to report, the management of the school had in its determination to tackle indiscipline, specifically non-compliance to prompt submission of homework by the pupils, was said to have summoned a meeting of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) to curb any form of academic negligence on the part of pupils and also tasked the teaching staff on high performance.

 

The Proprietor, who expressed dismay over the incident and explained that the teacher, who merely scolded the child and flogged her two strokes  of cane, pointed out that when he learnt about the matter he waded in. But, despite his intervention, he regretted that the parents refused to heed his pleas, saying:

“Though I was not in the school when the incident happened, when the parent complained that the teacher caned her child, I appealed to her that the issue would be addressed.

That was on Friday, December 4. I informed her of the PTA meeting where it was decided that the school would no longer allow indiscipline or condone a situation whereby assignments are given to a pupil and unattended to.”

 

Ajayi added: “The child’s mother and grandmother came into the school on the morning of Monday, December 7, when we were in the assembly.

 

While I was talking to the grandmother, the mother of the child with a stick in her hand attacked and hit my staff (the teacher) with the stick. It was unbelievable and I was dumbfounded because of her actions. I, therefore, ordered the parents and child to leave my school immediately and I reported the issue to the appropriate authorities.

 

“They vowed to further deal with the teacher, threatening that she has not seen anything yet. I reported the matter to the Chairman of our association, who directed that the incident should be posted on our group platform.”

 

According to the Proprietor, the child didn’t do her assignment and it has been happening like that for a long time and we used to warn and correct her. “When the grandmother came last week, I explained to her and she knelt down to thank me. She was happy and left,  only for them to come back on Monday complaining that there was a mark in her child’s body and that the scar will not go.

 

What I believe is that the woman came purposely because of the school fees she owed, which she did not want to pay since examination would commence on Wednesday, December and we have been sending pupils away for school fees,” Ajayi added The Proprietor, however, described the teacher as responsible and dedicated, saying “she takes care and teaches the children very well despite that she has only spent a session in the school.”

 

Ajayi, who hinted that he was invited to the Office of the Wife of the Governor over the incident, said that as teachers, they are all parents and do not maltreat the pupils under their care.

 

Meanwhile, the mother of the pupil, Mrs. Toyin Akinwumi, who worked at the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti and her husband, refuted all the allegations, claiming that the teacher was maltreating her child unjustly.

 

She said: “When I went to the school to pick the child home, it was her mates that drew my attention to my child’s legs that they beat Toluwa. And, when I looked at the legs I wondered what she could have done to warrant such beating.”

 

Also on the allegation that she physically assaulted the teacher, she noted: “When I went to the school, I wanted to hold the teacher but she ran back only for the proprietor to say that my child should carry her bag and leave the school. I took my baby and we left the school. “I don’t care if my child is scolded for wrongdoing, because I tell them to train her very well.

But the scars on the baby’s body were too gory for a six-yearold child.”

While narrating her ordeal, the 24-year-old Oluwatomisin, a holder of National Diploma (ND), who joined the school in 2019, told New Telegraph that though she loves teaching profession, given her recent experience her interest and passion for the teaching had greatly waned.

Oluwatomisin, who has secured admission to a university to further her studies in Microbiology, expressed regret over the incident, lamenting: “Since that day, my two eyes have not been working well. I was unable to walk for many days all because I corrected her child for refusing to do her school assignment.”

 

On the allegation of her harsh attitude towards the pupils, she argued: “The woman is being economical with the truth, I have many pupils whose parents want me to teach their children, but when new pupils are brought from other schools their parents would insist I handle them based on my recommendation by parents of pupils in my class.

 

But, while the dust raised by the Ado- Ekiti incident was yet to settle, a 17-yearold, Senior Secondary School (SS II) female student of Community Secondary

 

School, Ikot Ewa, Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State, Promise Idorenyin, allegedly went to the school with a gun with intent to shoot the Vice Principal, who had earlier asked her to cut her tinted hair.

According to the report on the social media, the student came to school on that day with ‘locallymade double barrel gun’ to shoot the Vice Principal, but for a teacher who was behind her that was said to have grabbed her hands and prevented her from shooting. Following the confusion in the school, the management alerted officers of the state’s Operation Akpakwu who came immediately to arrest her.

The students, it was also reported, however, claimed that the gun belonged to her ‘boyfriend,’ a 38-year-old man, Okon Effiong, who had also been arrested by the police. Idorenyin, who was paraded at the state Police Headquarters alongside Effiong, her ‘boyfriend,’ claimed that she took the gun to show her friends in the school because that would be “the first time” she would ever see a gun.

 

But, in his reaction to the development, the Secretary General of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr. Mike Ene described the situation as unfortunate, threatening that if the government failed to do the proper thing in cases of molestation, harassment and physical attacks on teachers, the NUT would have no option than to call its members out to boycott classes.

But, the union, he insisted, would not hesitate to sanction any erring teachers that maltreats or punishes students or pupils unjustly and without justifiable reasons. Ene, who recalled that teachers were seeing in the good old days as the soul of the society and role models, who were well respected and accorded dignity, wondered that all these had been lost with modernity.

He also wondered that many parents nowadays no longer value investments in their children, saying: “Parents have abdicated their responsibilities in bringing up their children according to societal norms and values. They no longer take the upbringing of their children as priority, as many of them go to work early and return home late without knowing what their children are doing. They no longer spend time with these children.

This is unfortunate.” Ene, who said the incessant attacks on teachers by parents and students was condemnable, noted that the union has a Disciplinary Committee, which looks into various cases of abuse of teachers and students in schools. But, the NUT added that the government at various levels with its instrument should deal with such cases and punish parents whose attitude is at variance with the expected norms.

Also, the union said the principals of such schools should without hesitation dismiss or suspend such students or children from the schools and no school in the area will enroll them, while the parents should be reported to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.

 

Expressing displeasure at the rising cases of teachers’ assault and harassment, Ene, who recalled that there were similar cases in Ondo and Nasarawa States, among others, which are being pursued by NUT, insisted that where parents are aggrieved, rather than result to selfhelp or to take law into their hands, should report such matter to the school authorities or government to deal with the situation with its instrument.

 

“For correcting a child, no reasonable parent should result in jungle justice,” he reiterated, saying in the cases in Ondo and Nasarawa States NUT took the parent to court and compensations were paid to the teachers.

Ene added: “Parents should not transfer their aggression at home on teachers. Where they feel aggrieved there are civil ways in which they can go about it by approaching the authorities or court, rather than to take laws into their hands by physically attacking and assaulting our members (teachers). That action is not only barbaric; it is unfortunate, condemnable and unacceptable.”

 

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Ekiti State chapter of the National Association of Private Schools Proprietors (NAPPS), Rev. Oluwafemi Williams, who confirmed the incident, said that he directed the Chairman of the Ward level of the association to properly investigate the matter, before it would be taken up at the state level. “We are aware of the incident, but we need to follow due process in order not jump into conclusion at the state level.

 

We need a full report of what happened before we swing into action, and this might result in legal action, depending on the outcome of the report from the Ward Chairman,” he noted.

 

Also, the Chairman of Ekiti State wing of the Nigeria Union of Teacher (NUT), Comrade Samuel Olusegun Olugbesan, insisted that the issue of parents harassing and physically assaulting teachers in the course of discharging their duties have become a great concern to the body.

 

He said: “This issue has been addressed by the NUT; and we have continued to make it known through all available channels that we will continue to resist this level of assault. But, it is quite unfortunate that this has also continued unabated. Recently, this type of assault happened in three or four different schools in the state for which we are conducting investigations on the cases.

 

We will not relent at ensuring that justice is brought to teachers where these issues are perpetrated. And, I want to make it known to all and sundry that NUT will resist any form of intimidation, harassment and assault on our members in the process of carrying out or discharging their duties. “It is only in an insane society where teachers are being harassed while doing their legitimate job; their work is to ensure that qualitative education is given to the learners, knowledge is imparted for the betterment of the society. But, if in the process of doing that some people now take law into their hands and because of the simplicity of teachers and the profession which is being taking that for granted to perpetrate evil, attack and harass them, we are not going to accept this and if care is not taken, the NUT will ensure that our teachers do not teach such children.

 

“Whether in public or private schools, a teacher is a teacher, and the interest is the same, and this must be protected otherwise the situation will continue. It is better for us to ensure that justice is entrenched in the system. As leadership of the NUT, the interest of teachers would be protected.”

 

In her case, Idorenyin, however, claimed that she was a cultist and a member of ‘Sky Queen,’ the female wing of ‘Skylo Cult Group’ that Effiong, who was said to have initiated Idorenyin is a member. The state Commissioner of Police, Sikiru Akande, while briefing journalists, said: “On 11/02/2021, at about 1420 hours, one CSP Eni Aharanwa, the Coordinator of Joint Border Patrol, South-South Zone 7, Calabar, handed over the above named suspect to the police.

 

The 17-year-old, SS II student of Community Secondary School, Ikot Ewa, Akpabuyo, had in her school bag a possession of a locally-made double barrel pistol, which was discovered by the principal of the school.

 

The suspect admitted that the said firearm was given to her by boy-friend of Abasi Effiom Village in Akpabuyo. They are Promise Idorenyin, 17 years, and Okon Effiong, her 38-year-old boyfriend.

 

Although the Commissioner, who said that from investigation, the gun was given to her “to take to a blacksmith,” however, did not provide more details as he said that investigation was ongoing.

 

Speaking on the development, the Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Education, Mr. Castro Ezama, said the situation would not have occurred if the student’s parents had been monitoring her activities both at home and school. He noted that it is important for parents to ensure that their children and wards were properly monitored to avoid such occurrences, regretting that family values have unfortunately been lost in the society.

 

Ezema said: “What happened in the case of this girl tells so much about the lack of family values in our society. Parents are no longer monitoring what their children are doing and that has created a lot of problems in the society. If her parents had taken keen interest in her development and behaviour she probably would not have the gut to do that.

 

“I want to appeal to parents to monitor their children’s behaviour and to ensure that they are assisted with values that will help them become good citizens. For such a young girl to carry a gun to school shows a lack of values, which also mirrors what society has turned to.”

 

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