Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child
There is an interesting report here
on the beauty of children learning the Qu'ran in Senegal.
KAOLACK, Senegal — It hurts too much to lie on his back, so the 7-year-old has spent the past month stretched out on his stomach. His two grandmothers sit on the hospital bed beside him, fanning the pink flesh left exposed by his teacher's whip.
It's progress that Momodou Biteye is in the hospital at all. It's also encouraging that the Quranic teacher who did this to him is behind bars.
But what is most significant is that the boy's father — a poor farmer who sold part of his harvest to pay for the bus fare to the hospital — filed the charges against the teacher himself. In doing so, this man with cracked lips and bloodshot eyes braved the wrath of his entire village, including his own father, who considers all teachers in Senegal's Islamic schools to be holy.
In hundreds of these schools in the mostly Muslim West African country, children are made to beg in the streets and are beaten if they don't bring back enough money. One 10-year-old was beaten to death with his hands tied behind his back and his mouth stuffed with rocks. Despite laws passed to protect children, the courts have convicted only a handful of Quranic teachers and quickly cave in the face of powerful clerics.
Did I say "interesting?" I meant disturbing. Oh, and as for the part about "beauty", sometimes I get too sarcastic for my own good. While I do think that discipline is important in school, and that we need more in American public schools, I have to admit that this goes way beyond what I think of as discipline. Jihadists get vacations and good food at Gitmo. These poor kids get the stuffings beaten out of them for not getting enough money for their abusive teachers.
No one in this poor village is surprised that the boy was beaten. A child needs to suffer, the grandfather says, to master the difficult text. It's a sentiment that is echoed in the village chief's hut, under the grass roofs of neighbors' homes and on the lips of other families whose own sons are still in the jailed teacher's boarding school.
Hitting and education are so intertwined in Senegal that the word for "to educate" — "yaar" is the same as the word for the stick to discipline students.
"See this?" says Omar Drame, a middle-aged villager, as he bends his head forward and points to an indentation on the top of his skull. "It's my marabout that did this to me. It forged me. It allowed me to learn that I can overcome difficulty."
At first, even the father thought his son was lying about why he was beaten. The marabout told investigators that he hit the boy for mispronouncing a verse from the Quran.
Oh, a beating for mispronouncing a verse from the Quran? Why didn't you say so? That is perfectly understandable. What was I complaining about?
Labels: islam, Islamic child abuse, Senegal