Sick Filipino Boy Dies After Being Punished By Teacher

April 3, 2008 at 10:06 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that a 14-year-old boy who was recovering from typhus, has died after having been punished by his teacher for failing to do his homework.

The boy and other pupils were forced to do continuous squats. The victim had just returned to school from hospital where he was admitted for typhus when he was punished together with other students. He was sent home after he fell ill and appeared pale. His parents took him back to the hospital but he died some days later.

CASE DETAILS:

Fourteen-year-old Jovan Samson Pascual, was a second year high school student at the Lagao National High School (LNHS), a public school in General Santos City. He had been diagnosed to have been suffering from typhus. His physicians had advised his parents to avoid doing stressful activities and to take a rest at home.

On 6 March 2008, Jovan reported back to school after having been absent after being admitted to the hospital for 15 days. When his teacher, Leonarda Awayan, started asking her students to produce their homework, Jovan was amongst those several students who were unable to do so and he and several other students were then told to come forward in front of their classmates and ordered to do squats.

While Jovan and his other classmates were doing the squats he began to feel ill and appeared pale. However, although the teacher had been told that Jovan was recovering from typhus she continued the punishment. Soon after the teachers sent him home and he arrived there his parents immediately took him to the General Santos City Doctors Hospital (GSCDH).

After arriving at the hospital, they were told that Jovan should be taken to a hospital in Davao City, which is about three hours travel from General Santos City, for him to get the medical attention he needed. His parents took him to Davao City where he was confined until about March 19. On being discharged, when he was being taken home, he died in the vehicle.

It is alleged that Jovan’s death could have been a result of the teacher’s punishment aggravating his medical condition. Prior to Jovan’s death, his parents had already properly informed his teacher of their son’s illness. In the letter which they had given her, they provided explanation of Jovan’s health condition and why he had been absent from school. However, after the incident, however, his teacher denied knowing her students’ medical condition.

After the incident, the boy’s parents made a complaint before the Barangay (village) Council of San Isidro in General Santos City. In the Philippines, the government encourages the settlements of conflicts under the Barangay Justice System, even in criminal cases.

The complainants and the respondents are given opportunity to settle their differences at the village level before pursuing them in court. For the time being, no criminal charges have been filed against the teacher. It has already been reported that the teacher had frequently going to the boy’s parent asking forgiveness and offering a settlement.

Also, even though the Division Office of the Department of Education (DepEd) in General Santos City has already commenced their investigation into the boy’s death, their inquiry would look into the administrative and not the criminal offense of the case. Their investigation had also failed to come to a conclusion. The school where the teacher belongs, LNHS, has also endorsed the inquiry to the DepEd–which means they have turned over jurisdiction of the case to the Division.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Although corporal punishment in public schools is prohibited, there are teachers who continuously imposed punishments believing that it could be one of effective way in disciplining their pupils and students. This often results either in death, students losing interest in going to school out of fear and humiliation or students transferring to other schools — like private schools.

In the Philippines, the conditions in public can be trying and teachers have the tendency to resort to using violence and punishments. For example, the number of students in one room can be as high as fifty or over.

The teachers have taken to using physical punishments, which can sometimes be violent, because the students, who are mostly from poor families, often do not make any complaints. Unfortunately there are also some parents who tolerate or even consent to the use of punishment when their children are naughty.

In the past in General Santos City, public school teachers commonly uses in open physical assaults and humiliation in dealing with their students. Incidents of teachers throwing board erasers at their students, hitting them with sticks and hard objects, threatening that they would be forced to eat papers if they could not answer, knocking their heads, amongst others, are common occurrences.

However, even when the parents do make complaints they rarely get any favourable action from the school authorities. The teacher’s colleagues and heads often defend their teacher’s; or would not take action at all. It is due to the parent’s lack of confidence in the school complaint mechanism that they resort to making complaints to local radio stations. Once the matters are aired over the radio, at least there is the possibility that they could get action.

Meanwhile, in January 2007, it was reported that two teachers in Tacloban City had been ordered by the Ombudsman to be charged with criminal offenses for violating a law which protects the children from being abused, which is an Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination (RA 7610). The two teachers were reported to have verbally and physically abused their students.

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