Abu Dhabi: For eight-year-old Mohammad going to school is no longer an opportunity to learn and have fun. Instead, his father says, it fills him with dread, wondering what will cause him to be punished this time.
A written complaint sent by Mohammad's father, Majid Bushnaq, to both his son's school — the International School of Choueifat (ISC) — and to the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), described Mohammad's situation as: "abusive and heavy-handedness of the school's disciplinary action, misuse of power to bully my son emotionally and physically to the point of tears and extreme depression, has impacted his grades negatively."
Bushnaq described how teachers embarrassed Mohammad on a number of occasions in front of his class mates, by asking him if he has found another school.
"Upon entering the class, the same teacher asked Mohammad to immediately leave the room and stay outside the entire lesson. Her excuse/explanation for punishing him was because of telling his father about the event above," said Bushnaq.
Mohammad's father said the boy once received an infraction/detention for asking a teacher for a sharpener.
"He had to sit the rest of the lesson without taking notes or working on the class exercises just because he forgot his sharpener." said the father.
Mohammad was also physically abused on several occasions, according to his father.
"When he was once kicked out of a classroom, the teacher slammed the door in his face, which ended up hitting him in the forehead, luckily he wasn't injured."
He said on another occasion, the detention teacher pulled Mohammad's hair, because he didn't sit down on time.
"Another teacher hit his lower lip while throwing his report book on the floor. All these incidents happened without a single apology letter from anyone," Bushnaq told Gulf News.
When they approached the school, Mohammad's parents were not permitted to speak to any of his school teachers.
"Instead we met with the headmaster, who refused to offer us a solution or listen to any of our complaints. He actually put my elder son who's in the same school, and has two years to graduate, into the equation, by telling us that if we didn't like the system, we should stop registration for both my sons," said Bushnaq.
When Gulf News approached Jean Kassis, the ISC school headmaster for comments, he answered: "I'm not going to comment on any of those things, because that's related to the future of a child. The school will hold you and whoever is complaining responsible if you publish this."
Investigation: Official's response
When asked about the incident, Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, Director General, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), said: "Adec is in contact with the school principal to discuss the matter further. However, by no means is physical and mental abuse acceptable in any school. We are currently looking into both sides of the story, but if and when we have proof that Mohammad was abused, we will take immediate action."
Do you know anyone who has been physically abused in school? Did they file a complaint? Has it become a norm for teachers to abuse students?