Teacher plays ‘Doctor’, injects students with unsterilized syringe as punishment
Medical literature shows students are at risk of contracting HIV, Hepatitis, Sepsis, and can die through air bubbles. Some students already have sores
A strict disciplinarian Teacher is always feared but the students in a distant phase of their lives do cherish lessons from that teacher, but not punishments that scar lives and contract diseases or even cause death.
In a similar case scenario the crude methods employed by a teacher of a school in the remote crevices of Zhemgang have surpassed all levels of rationality and medical safety standards.
Medically, a syringe is used to inject vaccines into the patient’s body but for the particular teacher of Budhashi Community Primary School in Goshing, Zhemgang, it is a weapon to punish the students. And the syringe he uses is raw and unsterilized which carries every risk to transfer diseases among the students.
The students of the school describe their dzongkha teacher as one of the strictest teachers in the school and the most feared by students. The fear in the minds of the students is not one that is generated to a productive or creative end, for students spend the entirety of the lesson period focused on how not to get punished by the teacher, rather than concentrate on the contents of lessons.
For these young minds going to school is more like being banished or exiled into a land of terror.
The teacher is feared especially for his primitive punishment technique of using a syringe to poke the students as punishment. Sources say that if a student fails to do their homework or misbehaves in the classroom, they are bound to get pierced. Students who move their hands get it on their hands and likewise on their buttocks and other body parts.
Goshing Gup, Sangay Letho had sent the Tshogpa of Lamtang village, Dorji Lungtse to the school to confirm the reality of such punishment used by the teacher. The Gup’s son also happened to be a victim.
“My son refused to go to school one day fearing getting poked with the needle,” said Gup Sangay Letho. He added that then he needed to confirm all the rumors doing the rounds at the time.
The Gup said, “The tshogpa has confirmed the punishment but the accused teacher was on leave that day.” In addition, he also said that the same teacher once thrashed all students in the assembly ground. The issue was then raised during the Teachers – Parents meeting and it was suggested that such corporal punishments be abolished.
The Gup also said that the teacher fills the syringe with water and injects the kids.
Lamtang Tshogpa Dorji Lungtse said, “I went to the school and confirmed that the teacher is using a syringe to poke students as a punishment.” He added that the all students were complaining about the teacher using needles to poke them.
The Tshogpa said that the teacher punished the students violently on various parts of their body and students who were injected have swollen and wounded body parts. The issue is yet to be put up to the Gewog Yargay Tshogchung (GYT).
Parents of the victimized kids The Bhutanese talked-to unanimously confirmed the accusations against the teacher. The parents have however been unable to lodge any formal complaints with the relevant agencies against the teacher for his brutal tactic of punishing students.
In this wild escapade of the ‘syringe-wielding-teacher’ only four out of 80 students in the school were spared the crude torture. The Tshogpa said these are the students who are very cautious in whatever they do in the class.
According to the World Health Organization the use of an unsterilized syringe on multiple occasions can lead to the possibility of dangerous diseases like HIV Aids, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. There is also danger of infection and Sepsis or blood poisoning from such unsafe medical practices.
However, a big danger according to several medical journals is that an untrained person may end up pushing in air bubbles into the veins of a patient which can either cause death or lead to massive organ damage.
An eight year old student described to his mother the teacher’s punishing tool, as a full-sized syringe which was very painful when poked it in his buttocks. The student was pricked twice and one of the wounds led to formation of boils. The parents of the kid had to take their child to the nearest Basic Health Unit for treatment.
“My son was poked on his buttocks twice and later he suffered from boils which took a long time to heal,” Leki Pelzang from Lamtang said. His son had shifted a little in his sitting position while the teacher was teaching and there he was pricked. “The wounds are still very much visible,” he said.
Leki Pelzang said his son reluctantly goes to the school fearing the punishment he may get for the slightest slip in the presence of the dzongkha teacher.
Another parent, Chezang, 46 from the same village said the children usually become sick suffering from fever. “The wound disables kids making them unable to walk,” he said. Chezang informally tried to find out how the empty needle landed up in the wrong hand but the Health Assistant of Goshing BHU denied giving out any such needle.
Chezang’s youngest son studies in the school.
Sangay Dorji, who has his sister in the school said she was sick for four days without any reason. She was bedridden and unable to move her legs. She took leave writing a leave letter. Sangay asked if there was a legalized and standing rule from Ministry of Education to do such things. He said that a Class VI science subject had a topic/chapter on injection. He suspects if the needle made its way to school during such a lesson.
The Zhemgang Dzongkhag Education Officer (DEO) Sangay Chophel said that the case has not yet reached the dzongkhag.
“We disseminated circular to every schools about use of no corporal punishment and if this is true the teacher would be dealt according to the law of the country,” said the Zhemgang DEO. The teacher was not available for comments.