Caning is illegal, counterproductive
Posted Monday, November 4 2013 at 02:00
The Saturday Monitor story about the arrest of a teacher who hit a nine-year-old pupil with a stick in the eye is a welcome development given the brutal treatment of pupils by some teachers.
The story of Sobra Namugga, the P4 pupil whose eye was removed by doctors in Mbale following a classroom ‘punishment’ by a teacher, was first reported by this newspaper on October 25. Namugga’s story represents a broader problem in many schools – the recklessness with which some teachers handle pupils.
This incident also raises serious concerns about the nature of corrective measures employed by teachers. According to Namugga’s classmates, the teacher found the pupils making noise. He asked them to keep quiet but Namugga remained talking; after warning her twice, he hit her with a stick. The girl subsequently lost her eye! It should never have come to this because there are ways of correcting children without causing injuries.
For some pupils, caning leads to lifelong disability, or even death. Though corporal punishment is illegal in Uganda, the practice remains rampant.
In September, a 13-year-old pupil in Rakai District died after allegedly being beaten by a teacher over allegations of stealing Shs3,000.
A related case was reported in June, where a nine-year-old pupil in Iganga District died after allegedly receiving a lash from a classmate under the instruction of their teacher.
These random reports of corporal punishment do not, however, represent the actual picture of the gravity of caning in schools and homes. The cases that make it to the newspapers are usually those involving serious injuries and death. Just last week, a teacher at St Katherine Girls School in Lira was picked up by police on allegations of assaulting a student into unconsciousness.
We should note that in 1997, the government announced a temporary ban on corporal punishments in schools and colleges. Similarly, the guidelines on policy, roles and responsibilities for stakeholders in the implementation of the UPE programme forbid the use of corporal punishment in schools.
Schools should, therefore, be reminded and cautioned that they are required to respect the guidelines on corporal punishment or face the law. They should also acquaint themselves with the alternative measures to corporal punishment recommended by the Ministry of Education and Sports for use in schools.