The State Minister for Primary Education, Ms Rosemary Seninde, has warned schools against violence against children as the country moves to fully reopen the education sector.
“We have been dealing with schools and teachers who are still committing violence against children. It is something that demoralises children. We have made sure that schools stop corporal punishment because it is not the only way to discipline children. I think many schools have stopped doing that,” Ms Seninde told Daily Monitor yesterday..
She warned parents against conniving with perpetrators of sexual harassment to evade justice.
“Sexual harassment has been dealt with case by case. We can’t deny the fact that it is still happening in some schools but we have been taking actions. But parents are always conniving with culprits to handle the issue of abuses out of court which is a disadvantage to the child,” Ms Seninde said.
The minister said they have asked schools to have senior women and senior male teachers to help affected children seek assistance.
“These teachers counsel children. And when it requires another level of action, we always encourage parents to work with us to address the issues,” she added.
Ms Seninde was reacting to a statement released yesterday by the Joining Forces Coalition, a global alliance of six child rights organisations, including Child Fund, Save the Children and Plan International, asking government to instruct and hold schools accountable to end corporal punishment and other abuses.
The coalition asked the Ministry of Education to revise the guidelines on teenage pregnancy and re-entry to provide for a more supportive environment in schools and communities so that girls and boys stay in school.
“Parents, caregivers and communities should discourage teachers from using corporal punishment and protect children from all harmful practices. They should ensure the home and community environment is safe and secure,” the statement read in part.
“Government should ensure adequate financing of child protection systems and mechanisms by prioritising the functionality of formal child protection structures within communities, including school,” it added.
The coalition said whereas the government’s decision to reopen schools is the right one, it is concerned that the issue of violence against children in schools could rise.
Up to three out of four Ugandans experienced violence in their childhood, the 2018 Violence Against Children Nationwide Survey states.
The report indicates that among 18-24-year-olds, one in three girls and one in six boys reported experiencing sexual violence during their childhood.