For Daniel Agboola, a Senior Secondary School Two pupil of Camp David Academy, Ogba, Lagos State, Friday, March 29 is a date etched in his memory for life. It was the day his teacher, Mr. Oludare Olaleye, damaged his right eye in the process of caning him.
The day had begun like any other as Daniel and his classmates prepared to sit an examination in the school’s hall. Olaleye, the supervisor for the exam, told the pupils to move out of the hall because the questions for the examination were not ready.
“As we moved out, he stood by the narrow door. As the last pupil to leave the hall, I had barely stepped out when he (Olaleye) called me back, saying that I hit him while I was rushing out of the hall,” Daniel recalled.
Convinced that he did not hit Olaleye, Daniel said he politely told him so, but that became his undoing.
“He did not allow me to say any other thing. He took his cane and started beating me,” he said.
Daniel recalled that as Olaleye continued to flog him, the cane landed on one his right eye and he collapsed.
He said: “I became weak. It was like I was dead. I could not say anything and did not remember anything. My head was empty. But he probably thought I was pretending, so he beat me the more, asking me to get up. I mustered the last energy in me to get up and I moved out of the hall while he shared the exam papers to my other classmates.
“It was when my classmates shouted that blood was coming out of my eyes that I went to the school’s accountant office to explain everything to her.
“The school sent for a doctor who happened to be one of the school’s parents. She said that nothing was wrong with the eye. Because the eye was swollen, she put ice block on it and said we should seek the advice of an eye specialist.
“The school accountant and I went to the nearby Blue Cross Hospital in Ogba, but we were told that no eye doctor was available and we were referred elsewhere opposite the hospital. On getting there, they too did not have an eye doctor around, so we were referred to another place in the same complex.
“The doctor, after testing the eye, said there was nothing wrong with it. He said it was a minor issue and recommended some eye drops we should buy. The doctor also referred us to Vision Plus, an eye hospital in Ikeja, to check the eye pressure.
“All the while we were moving around, blood was still coming out of my eye. It was swollen, the pain was much and I was not seeing anything with it. I covered the eye from the sun as we headed back to school.
“The accountant and Mr Olaleye later took me to Vision Plus where the eye pressure was checked and we were told to come back for the result the following Monday.
“We went back to the school and I later went home with the eye drops we had bought earlier. I was using the eye drops until the person who was applying them for me discovered that two of them had expired since October last year.”
Daniel added: “On Saturday (the day after the incident), the school took me to Eye Foundation where the eye was tested. The eye surgeon was not around and I was given some other eye drops and tablets.
“They said there was nothing wrong with the eye but that the blood could not flow. So they told us to come back the following Thursday.
“When we got there on Thursday for another round of tests, they still said that nothing was wrong with the eyes.
“It was when we went back there on Friday that we met the eye surgeon who after scan and tests said the eye has traumatic cataract and would need operation.
“He prescribed another eye drop for me because the eye pressure had not gone down. He said the normal eye pressure should be 16 but mine was 32.
“He said the operation could not be done immediately because the pressure of the eye must return to normal first.
“He said the operation would cost N1 million, but the school said the money was too much and that we should try other hospitals.
“The school also took me to Aricillia Catholic Hospital where they said the lens of my eye, which was supposed to be white, was covered with blood, hence other eye drops were prescribed for me.
“The doctor also said I had traumatic cataract and the operation would cost N1 million.”
Daniel said since the incident, he had not been able to go anywhere.
He said: “I have to sit in one place. I can’t look down; I have to always look straight. I could not even finish my exam.
“I can only see with my left eye. My right eye can no longer see anything. It is very blurred. I can’t read or move the shortest distance with the eye. Even if I hold a phone, I cannot see anything on it.”
Daniel’s mother, Hannah Agboola, blamed the school for not contacting the family immediately the incident occurred. She accused them of taking her son round hospitals without the knowledge of his family.
“What I know is that when something happens to a child, the father, mother or guardian should be first called to be notified and decide on what to be done to the child. I also know that students are not meant to be beaten in schools.”
She lamented that after the teacher beat her son and he fell down, the teacher kept beating him and did nothing to help the boy.
She said: “Daniel could not sleep the night the incident happened. He cried all through the night because he was in pains. His eye was dropping some liquids. It was like the eye wanted to remove from the socket. He was just shouting and rolling on the floor.
“Due to this, my blood pressure rose to over 250. Since the incident, I have not gone to work. I have not been to my shop. I have lost money taking care of Daniel.”
She recalled that two of the eye drops bought for her son were expired.
She said: “We discovered the Monday after the incident on April 1, while applying one of the eye drops given to us, that two of them were expired. One was dripping something like oil. We notified the school on the expired drops, but the school director told us he could not do more than he had done and that we should do whatever we wanted to do.
“But the school director later begged. While this was going on, we were called to come to the school; that officials from the state Ministry of Education were in the school. I went with my son and met two representatives from the ministry.
“The ministry told me they would handle the case; that it was already a government matter and that they would call me. But I have not heard anything from them till today.
“My son is not troublesome, I gave birth to him and I know him well. He has never had a problem with his eyes. Nobody in our family has eye problems. His father and I have sharp eyes.”
Mrs Agboola said that since her son’s eye pressure would not go down, she decided to get a chalet at the Mountain of Fire Ministries where she has been praying for her son.
She said: “The liquid drops have stopped but the eye is still swollen and my son cannot see with the eye. “I need help from Nigerians because this is not how I took my son to school. I want my son’s eyes back. How the operation would be done, the payment for the operation and how he would see again must be sorted out by the school.
When our reporter visited the school, the Head of Schools, who would not disclose her name, said that the incident was an accident.
She said: “There was a case but it was an accident, and it is not as serious as some people have painted it. The state Ministry of Education is involved. The pupil has been well taken care of.
“There is no issue of cataract. We took him to Eye Foundation and we also took him to Aricilla Catholic Hospital. The outcome of all the hospitals we took him to was that there was no report of any serious damage to the eye. And from the medical report, there is no cause for alarm, and there is nothing like the teacher flogged him and he developed cataract. It is not possible.
“From our investigation, we discovered that the boy had eye problem before he came to the school. As a school, we are concerned to make sure that the boy is 100 per cent fit and there is no issue at all with him. The school has been responsible for all the bills.
What actually happened?
According to the head teacher, “it was a case of a teacher trying to flog a child and the child removed his hand and the cane mistakenly went to the side of his eye. That was what happened.
“The teacher is to be blamed because we don’t allow cane in our school. We have a policy here, and there are only two offices that issue cane: in the primary school, the head teacher and in the secondary school, the head of schools, which is myself or the principal. So the teacher has no right to have raised the cane in the first place.
“However, it should be noted and emphasised that there is no cause for alarm. The child is 100 per cent okay and there is nothing like cataract. He is fine. When things like this happen, eye drops will be recommended. But from the hospitals we visited, the results we have with us, including the scan which we have here in our office, he is fine. He was placed on eye drops and medication, but there was no serious damage.”
“As for the teacher, we have our disciplinary procedures. The teacher in question is still in the service of the school, and we need to give the boy more time and certify that the boy is perfectly okay by getting a final report from the various hospitals we took him to before we conclude on the what to be done to the teacher.
“When an accident like this happens, we cannot just disengage the teacher. We have to go through internal disciplinary procedures. To disengage is the last resort.
“A teacher cannot just use a cane to flog a student if he has not done anything. But I said the teacher is at fault because there are other ways of punishment the teacher would have used other than cane. He went to the extent of using cane, against the rules of the school.
“However, a student trying to push a teacher on the walk path, in my own opinion, should be seriously dealt with. In this case, a teacher was at the walk path and the student, not even saying ‘excuse me sir’ but pushing the teacher, and the teacher got offended and called him back to flog him but the student removed his hands and cane went to the side of his eye, which means the student caused it.”
Speaking on the issue, the teacher in question, Olaleye, said the school was writing exam when the incident happened.
He said: “A paper was not available, so I asked that class to leave the hall. The student that moved out of the hall last hit me. I called him back but he lied that he did not hit me. I told him to stretch his hand to give him two strokes of the cane.
“When I wanted to flog him, he was shaking. He removed his hand and the second stroke went to his eyes. He fell down but I thought that as a student, he was pretending. I beat him again so that he would stand up. When he did not, I pulled him up and took him out.
“We took him to different hospitals. The eye was checked and we were told that nothing was wrong with the eye except that there is pressure on the eye, and that they cannot do surgery on the eye because of the high pressure.
“We bought and gave him the medications that were prescribed”.
He said the matter got to the State Ministry of Education, adding that some officials came to the school and he told them what happened.
“It was not intentional. The official only said that was I not aware that I was not supposed to use cane and that the case will get to the Ministry of Health? I don’t know who is escalating the matter. It is not possible that the boy will have cataract.
“Cataract is another issue, according to medical experts. You can verify that online. It is not that we have left them; we communicate with them regularly.”
A general practitioner, Dr Joseph Faniyi, said he was not sure the boy had been given any standard treatment that can avail whatever injury the boy has sustained since the incident happened.
“When the boy was brought to me and I examined the eye, there is likely no doubt that he has developed traumatic cataract. I did not do clinical examination on him, but he sat in front of me and I realised that the right eye has developed traumatic cataract, and if the right thing is not done, he may end up losing the eye.
“I did not do clinical examination. If he cannot see very well with the eye at the time the injury occurred till now, maybe by December, the eye will have gone if nothing standard is done.”