I, like many others, am appalled at the incident involving a specially-abled child who was allegedly abused by her teacher in kindergarten knowing fully well she suffered from restricted mobility and speech disorders.
This incident has been widely condemned and rightly so because deterrent measures must be taken against the offender for an act that contradicts the most basic religious norms and human and educational values.
We have all been overwhelmed with this incident and the outcry made the Education Ministry set up an investigation to get to the bottom of the entire episode.
Many also visited the child at a centre for special education and organised a party for her even as condemnation of the incident poured in from across the region and beyond.
The case was transferred to the Public Prosecution which after investigations ordered the arrest of the accused as well as the person who allegedly filmed the incident. The kindergarten in question was also shut after it emerged its licence to operate had expired. It was also revealed the offending teacher was hired illegally, and just because she is a former official at one of Bahrain’s ministries.
In this case, the blame lies at the doorstep of the Education Ministry which has special departments responsible for following up on the affairs of kindergartens, private and government schools. This department should have ensured all licensing procedures had been followed. It is well known many such places are only there for the profits they generate, rather than to provide education. If the ministry had done what it was supposed to before the start of the school year, this would not have happened.
This incident is, unfortunately, just the tip of the iceberg among several negatives and deficiencies in our systems that we must acknowledge and work to correct if we have to work properly and professionally. Our children deserve all the attention and care and kindergartens and schools have the responsibility to ensure their health and safety.
The ministry must also carry out random visits to verify that kindergartens and even schools and universities are operating according to clear and well-defined criteria. The issue requires restructuring the current system and setting up a new working mechanism in accordance with the latest specifications, controls and international educational standards.
Unfortunately, many do not respect laws that are laid down to protect them, but this does not mean that we do not carry out periodic inspection and control campaigns to ensure this happens. Only by force of law can we take control of matters.
Various social media, newspapers, radio and television should be used well to present indicative programmes to educate children as well as adults about the importance of complying with the law.
This is not easy and requires concerted efforts by all parties, but whenever there is determination, will and teamwork, it is easy to achieve the desired goals.