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85% of Nigerian children suffer violent discipline- UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says 85 percent of Nigerian children between the ages of 1 and 14 experience violent discipline in schools, with nearly 1 in 3 children experiencing severe physical punishment.

UNICEF Chief of Education, Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan, stated this in Abuja on Tuesday, at a two-day National Awareness Creation Meeting on Ending Corporal Punishment in schools, organised by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN, in collaboration with  UNICEF. 

Panday-Soobrayan described the discussion on ending corporal punishment in schools as “difficult and heart-breaking,” stating however that the presence of participants at the meeting was a testament to Nigeria’s determination to uphold every child’s right to safety, well-being, and quality, inclusive education.

“Yesterday we confronted the harrowing reality that 85% of children between the ages of 1 and 14 in Nigeria experience violent discipline, with nearly 1 in 3 children experiencing severe physical punishment. This is a staggering statistic, one that demands urgent action and is indicative of a crisis!

“Much of this violent discipline takes place in the form of corporal punishment in the very institutions that are entrusted to keep children safe, develop respect for human rights and prepare them for life in a society that promotes understanding peace, and conflict resolution through dialogue,” she said.

According to her, the persistence of these practices contradicts Nigeria’s National Policy on Safety, Security, and Violence-Free Schools, which commits to zero-tolerance of any threat to the security of life and property in schools.

Panday-Soobrayan also noted that the practice is “stalling Nigeria’s progress toward SDG 3 to ensure good health and well-being, SDG 4 on equitable and inclusive quality education and target 16.2 (to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children).”

Also speaking, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by Hajia Binta Abdulkadir, endorsed the action plan and roadmap for ending corporal punishment in schools in line with the Child’s Rights Act passed into law in 2003, protecting children’s right to a life free of violence.

Adamu noted that globally, there is evidence indicating that corporal punishment in schools has impacted negatively attendance and learning outcomes.

Earlier, the Registrar of TRCN, Prof Josiah Ajiboye, said Globally, there is a paradigm shift from corporal punishment in schools because of its effect on pupils, adding that practice has been proven to be ineffective, dangerous, and an unacceptable method of controlling and maintaining behavior and discipline.

Ajiboye said corporal punishment brings negative rather than positive consequences in the whole process of teaching and learning.

On his part, the World Bank Senior Education Specialist, Prof Tunde Adekola, said the global bank believes there is a correlation between learning poverty and corporal punishment while stressing the urgency of implementing the action plan against corporal punishment in schools.

Writing by Daniel Adejo.