Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Corporal punishment key reason for school dropouts

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18 May 2008 (IRIN) - Quite often, Bilal Javed, 10, stands opposite the school he once attended and peers past the gates. An able pupil, who excelled at mathematics during his five years in school, Bilal misses lessons. But he has not been to school for four months and says he is "too scared" to venture through the entrance again.

Bilal's father, Asad Javed, 33, explained: "My son was good at his work and we were eager he gain an education. But one day he was beaten so badly by his science teacher, who hit him with a shoe, that he came home badly bruised and in great pain”.

“I had to give him a painkilling tablet so he could sleep," said Asad, who works as a cleaner.

The boy was punished for talking in class. He has, since then, refused to return and his parents say they are helpless.

"We want him to be educated, but we don't want him to be beaten up," said Bilal’s father, who himself went to school for only three years.

According to the Islamabad-based Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) advocating the rights of children, 35,000 high school pupils in Pakistan drop out of the education system each year due to corporal punishment.

Such beatings at schools are also responsible for one of the highest dropout rates in the world, which stands at 50 percent during the first five years of education, according to SPARC.

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