Friday morning started like any other morning. A light breeze in the air, the pounding of ocean waves on the reef, and water on the grass from the early morning rains. The school bell rang a minute or two before 8 am and the students of Fasioti primary school lined up in front of the flag pole, 20 wide and 20 deep. A teacher addressed the students, then differed to the principle who was already sporting a solid line of sweat down his back. The late students hung back at the gate entrance to the school. After the morning Bible reading and prayer, the late students were called in. After a 100 yard dash through muddy holes and slippery grass, they formed a new rank flanking the other students. After the other students were dismissed by grade to their classrooms, attention shifted to the tardy students. Before a word is said, <slap>, and a face turned red. Something was shouted and a few students stepped forward. The lucky ones got a back-hand across the face while others just knuckle punches on the top of the head. Most were too terrified to move forward and got off unharmed for the moment. Several teachers were absent that day. No reason was given as to why. Those who did come in were given the gift of double classes. The principal pawned off his unusually small class to the highest bidder and took year 2. An energetic group of students ready to learn – 60 strong. Once they realized their fate, silence fell almost as fast as the smiles and excitement turned to frowns and fear. Their fate was to sit quietly in the open hallway. A pleasant breeze and full shade made their day bearable given the circumstances. Struggling to cope with personal frustrations at work, the principal lashed out at the silent students in the hallway. Their noise level was and had been equal to a few whispering people in church. Verbal assaults quickly turned physical. A meter stick appeared out of thin air and heads ducked in terror and were covered by arms and hands. The principal walked down the hallway pummeling each student in the head or hands as he verbally abused them for existing. A few kids were left in tears while the older bigger ones did their best to save face. At the same time, another teacher used a 1/2 inch PVC pipe to let some students know that they gave the wrong answer to the question. Fortunately for these students, the pipe is enchanted and bestows instant knowledge correcting the erroneous thoughts.
For those teachers who do not have access to such optimal teaching instruments, coconut spine brooms are common place. The students have been told to bring in fresh brooms from home under the pretense of cleaning the classroom. While 2 or 3 of these brooms are used to sweep the room, the other 10 lie scattered about the room. This is so they are never far out of reach when a student needs educating. In case you are not familiar with such a broom think of a witches broom. This one isn’t made out of grass though. Coconut spines are strong and pointy. When you hit something with them, a little piece usually breaks off and becomes part of the dirt. In the students case it becomes part of their skin.
On a later date a teacher spoke freely of when they were reported to the police/victim support group. The teacher pleaded guilty to beating the student with a PVC pipe, but not to breaking the students hip. The story was left unclear to me whether the teacher did in fact break the students hip. What was clear was that the student did have a broken hip, and the PVC pipe still exists and is used… though in 2 smaller pieces.
I am not sure why this post was not posted correctly. I hope you faithful readers do not mind reading the new material.