Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Following the outrage that trailed last week’s alleged molestation of pupils of an Enugu-based private school, Early Dew Montessori Academy, by policemen for failing to do their assignments, the management of the school yesterday dismissed the incident as false, insisting that the invitation of the policemen to the school was stage-managed to instill discipline in the children.
Apparently miffed by the incident, the Enugu State Government had last Monday suspended the operations of the school located at Imoke street, GRA, Enugu. The pupils were between the ages of 4 and 7 years.
The state Commissioner for Education, Professor Uche Eze, who visited the school, described the act as an embarrassment to the state government and a serious psychological abuse of the children.
Eze said the action would serve as a warning to other private schools in the area who adopted unethical practices in the name of punishment to students, and therefore directed the school authority to write an apology letter to the state government, parents of the abused children and the people of the state.
But, briefing journalists at the school premises, the Proprietress of the school, Mrs. Ify Okonkwo, explained that the reported arrest of some pupils of the school who did not do their assignments and those whose uniforms were dirty was stage managed to instill discipline.
The proprietress who confessed to not considering the implications of her action, said the pupils were asked to get into the back of the police Hilux Van where they pleaded to be of better behaviour.
Also, a parent who was part of the arrangement, Jesica Nnamani, appeared to further plead on their behalf leading to their immediate release.
“I want to thank the people of the state, especially Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the Commissioner for Education, Professor Eze, for showing concern in this matter. I also want to thank the parents for their understanding. What happened in the school on February 16 was to encourage the children to be focused. I brought the police to come and talk to the children and to elevate them to read on their own without being pushed.
“In my mind I thought I was doing it to bring the children up in a way that they will be attached to their studies. No child was manhandled neither did they point a gun at any of the children. I was the person that took the pictures and we have a group chat I opened for parents as one family to brief them on the school’s activities. When I took this action, I posted it on the platform, with the caption, ‘some children were arrested today for not doing their homework, for not reading their books, for not behaving well, but they promised to change.’
“I didn’t mean any harm; I meant well for the kids, if not, I wouldn’t have made it public; it would have been between me and the teachers; also, when I uploaded it on the platform, parents were commending me.”
She however noted that while other parents were commending her action, one of them who had issues with the school uploaded the report of the incident on Facebook alleging that the state government in conjunction with the school arrested the pupils for not doing their assignments.
On her part, Nnamani corroborated the explanation by the proprietress, noting that “on that very day, I came to the school to attend to my sick son where the school ‘mummy’ told me what she was planning to do. Some of the pupils involved were looking very dirty so when the police came she told them that the police would take them away until they promised to be of good behaviour.
“Then I acted and said, school ‘mummy’ please don’t take them away, they will change. I said okay, are you people promising school ‘mummy’ that you will do well from now on? They all said yes!
“The people you saw on that van were people who weren’t serious with what was happening; they were rather laughing. They now took them behind the van; it was then they started begging.
“If I should say, she didn’t mean any harm. As a parent, I supported what she did. She did it in the interest of the pupils.”