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Educators’ flaw
By Son Nguyen
Thursday,  Nov 29, 2018,20:58 (GMT+7)

Educators’ flaw

By Son Nguyen

The harsh punishment by a teacher against a junior high-school student in the central province of Quang Binh has these days drawn ire from all walks of life, not only because of the bodily harm inflicted on the poor boy, but also because of how principles of education are trampled on.

The sixth grader at Duy Ninh Junior High School in Quang Ninh District, Quang Binh Province, as widely covered in local media, was found to utter foul language while in the schoolyard last Monday, and the case was reported to the head-teacher of his class, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thuy. The teacher then ordered each of all the other 23 students in the class to slap the teenager ten times in the face, and after 230 slaps, the teacher herself gave him the last one.

With 231 slaps, the poor boy’s face turned black and blue, and was then rushed to hospital for medical attention. He was discharged from the hospital last Wednesday, still feeling great pain in the jaw. But it is the vast society that is feeling more painful and worried about the country’s education sector in the wake of the brutal treatment by the teacher.

Right after the news broke, authorities in Quang Binh Province suspended the teacher from her job, while the district police this week decided to press criminal charges against her.

Apart from the angry public that has vented indignation over the punishment against the student, top leaders of the education ministry have also voiced their standpoint.

Deputy Minister of Education Nguyen Thi Nghia says on Dan Tri news website that no matter what violation the student may have committed, the punishment is blatantly wrong and totally unacceptable. Meanwhile, in Vnexpress.net, Minister Phung Xuan Nha says the ministry will not accept such a teacher in the education sector. “A civilized society must say no to violence, and the school must take the initiative to realize this goal,” the minister is quoted by the news site.

Many teachers have also criticized the violent punishment.

Nguyen Thi Huyen Thao, a teacher at the HCMC-based Tran Dai Nghia High School, says on the news site that the Quang Binh teacher got it all wrong when dictating such a punishment, and “there is no excuse for that,” according to zing.vn.

Nguyen Tung Lam, a psychologist at Dinh Tien Hoang High School in Hanoi, says in Lao Dong that aside from the victim, his classmates also suffer greatly as they were forced by the teacher to beat their friend. “Instead of advising them to respect one another, the teacher guided such students to treat one another with violence,… which is unforgivable,” he is quoted in the paper. Meanwhile, Tran Xuan Nhi, former deputy minister of education, stresses in Lao Dong that “the society must voice its all-out objection to this form of violence in education,” adding this goes against education principles when sowing the seed of hatred among students.

In her first reaction, the teacher explained that her class scored poorly in terms of performance, and she applied the tough disciplinary action to improve the situation. In addition, the school’s principal has spelt out emulation targets for each class to achieve, as the school is poised to be recognized as a national-standard facility. However, the teacher admitted that she was all wrong, and asked for forgiveness.

It is now known that the teacher herself has applied this form of punishment against at least ten other students in class. According to Motthegioi.vn, as many as ten other students in the class had suffered from the same punishment demanded by the teacher, who applied the harsh rule to compel the class to achieve what was targeted in the emulation drive.

The teacher’s initial confession mirrors not only her own misdeed, but also the systemic flaw at the school, and to some extent in the entire education sector.

Right after the maltreatment of the student made headlines, the school principal sought to conceal the scandal. According to Dan Tri, the principal insisted that media outlets refrain from covering the event for fear that “efforts by the school to achieve the title of national-standard school will be all in vain.”

Even a top local education official has also sought to cover up the incident.

Vo Thai Hoa, head of the education division of the province’s Quang Ninh District, conducted a quick inspection at the school on November 22 after learning of the scandal, but after the trip, the official remained tight-lipped, without informing district leaders of the case, according to Phap Luat Online. He only briefed local leaders via the phone instead of a written report when the case had been widely covered in local media, says the news site.

The maltreatment in this case, according to many media outlets, is just the final straw, as many forms of violence against students in the past have either been underreported or gone unaddressed. Such a grave violation by the teacher has almost been covered up by the school management simply because of a title, says vov.vn, and in the past, many other cases have not been properly tackled, such as teachers forcing a student to drink water wrought from a wiper, or hit students on the head.

The cover-up to gain the title for the school has led teachers as well as school managers to skip their mandates of educating children, and enforce cruel rules instead, says Nguoi Lao Dong. It is another slap on the face of the education sector, says the paper.

In a commentary, Dan Tri says it is possible that many teachers at this school have had their minds preoccupied with achievements for the school. It is also possible that many other teachers at many other schools in the country are also doing the same, seeking to make achievements for their schools. “Chasing after phony achievements can be seen in almost all sectors in the society, but in education, it has become a chronic disease,” says the news site.

The media outlet ponders why all are looking forwards to such virtual achievements for the school, and why none of them look forwards to students’ wellbeing. The education philosophy has gone wrong, especially with the emulation movement among all the schools in the country, says Dan Tri.

As the maltreatment by the teacher against her student unveils the existential flaw in the country’s education sector, it is high time drastic changes were introduced for a thorough reform. Otherwise, education will fail to create high-quality human resources for the country, says Dan Tri.

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