The High Court (HC) yesterday directed the government to submit a report to it within two weeks on what steps it has taken regarding the incidents of corporal punishment against students in schools across the country between March and July this year.
An HC bench of Justice Md Imman Ali and Justice Obaidul Hasan passed the order in response to a pending writ petition jointly filed by human rights organizations -- Ain O Shalish Kendra (ASK) and Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST).
The rights groups filed the petition with the HC on July 18 challenging the systematic failure of the government to take action against repeated and severe incidents of corporal punishment, including caning, beating and chaining of children by teachers in schools and madrasas.
The petition was filed following the reported suicide of a 10-year-old boy, a student of a government school in Mymensingh, in July this year after he had been beaten by a school teacher, and in the wake of dozens of such cases being reported in media over the past year.
Meanwhile, the ministry of education yesterday submitted a report to the HC stating that it has issued a circular prohibiting corporal punishment mentioning actions against those responsible.
It said the education ministry has also decided to formulate guidelines to prevent and prohibit corporal punishment against students, and prepare a training manual for teachers. It has also taken steps to initiate inquiries into the allegations of corporal punishment.
The Madrasa Education Board also submitted another report saying that it has held inquiries into three incidents as alleged by the writ petitioners, based on the media reports, including one of a girl who was caned with pushing a pen in her eye for not wearing the school uniform (described as a borkah).
The madrasa board has directed its officers to file a report on the action taken against those responsible within seven days, it said.
The HC fixed October 14 for further hearing on the matter.
Barrister Sara Hossain and Advocate Abantee Nurul appeared for the petitioners while Deputy Attorney General Motahar Hossain Sazu represented the education ministry and Barrister Mynul Hasan stood for the madrasa board.