Pupil Dies after Caning! A Ghanaian Pupil Died Recently after She Was Caned at School, Which Reminds Me of My School Days. Excessive Caning by Teachers Is Sadism, Period

Article excerpt

There are certain things that happen to other human beings that send a shudder through one's system. Although one may not have been there when the event occurred, one's mind transports one to the scene, to feel the emotions felt by those who were present, and to empathise totally with the victims of the event. In that vein, this newspaper report brought tears to my eyes: "Pupil Dies After Caning" was the headline. The body of the story said:

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"A packed Magistrate's Court [in Ghana] was filled with shocked silence, when the prosecution read a charge of provisional murder against a teacher who allegedly administered two strokes of the cane on a 14-year-old pupil, who died. The teacher was said to have punished the pupil and others, for lateness to school. Some of the teachers and relatives began to weep and had to be helped out of the courtroom ... The teacher was remanded in police custody for felony ...

"The trial judge said the adjournment was to allow the police to complete investigations into the circumstances that led to the death of the pupil. The body had been deposited at the mortuary, awaiting autopsy.

"The court heard that the teacher [was] on duty on 3 March. In that capacity he punished some of the pupils who came to school late. The prosecutor told the court that the teacher gave each of the pupils two lashes on their buttocks [my emphasis] and thereafter instructed them to pick up leaves littered around the school compound. Later, the girl became unconscious and fell down while getting up from her desk in the classroom. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival."

This story sent me right back to Class Three, which I reached when I was nearly nine years old. You may remember that my Class One teacher had attempted to "jump" me to Class Two from Class One but that when I got to Class Two, the teacher there showed very little interest in me, and behaved as if he expected me to pick up what I had not yet been taught, by magic. Not only that--he hardly did any teaching, leaving most of the "work" to a bully of a prefect, who just distributed work books and chose the pages on which we were to work on, meanwhile abusing us as much as he could.

I failed miserably under these conditions and was sent back to Class One. It was humiliating to me, but what hurt me most was that by sabotaging my "jump" to his class, the Class Two teacher had made it appear as if the judgement of my Class One teacher was faulty. Thus I went back to Class One with my head down. Had my Class One teacher not been a particularly perceptive individual who understood instinctively that something was wrong in the kingdom of Class Two, I could have lost my self-confidence for ever.

As it was, Mr Akwaban (that was his name) completely ignored my debacle and went on as if nothing had happened. And at the end of the year, I did so well that he got the headteacher to promote me to Class Three, to join the Class Two chaps whom I was supposed to have been unable to match when I had been given the opportunity to join them.

Well, we were now in Class Three. With a new teacher! He taught us all new things at the same time. And, thank God, I was able to cope with the material he taught us. I studied so hard--because of my previous year's history with my classmates--that when he set us an examination after the first four weeks, I came first. The former Class Two pupils were shocked out of their minds. But worse was to come for them. Although I was only getting to nine whilst most of them were over 10, I was appointed class prefect. Over them! It was sweet revenge for my humiliation in Class Two, and engineered by a new teacher who could not be accused of bias, at that.

My classmates envied my position, but I hated it. It meant I had to go and sweep the teacher's rented room each morning, before going back to prepare myself for school. …