Punish teachers who torture pupils

News that a teacher has been charged for beating a girl into a coma should wake us up to the evil of corporal punishment in our schools. Of course, the teacher has denied the charge but has been locked up in Ndorwa Government Prison until November 26.

But the senseless beatings of pupils in schools go on, despite the law banning the practice having been in place for nearly eight years. So teachers continue to torture children with impunity because none of them has been punished harshly to serve as an example to stop the abuse of pupils.

In this particular case, the victim’s only crime was reportedly entering the school library with a jacket and a cap. But this simple breach of school rules must not provoke a teacher into fits of uncontrolled anger. Children are often likely to make errors. But their teachers as mentors are expected to be calm and collected and exercise maximum restrain.

It is, therefore, unethical and criminal for a teacher to torture a child, sometimes to a point of crippling them. As child rights agency, Plan says, this blatant violence against children must not be disguised and accepted as “discipline”. The violence must be treated with the same disgust as other forms of cruel and degrading punishment of children.

There are ideal anti-corporal punishment models Uganda can implement. A notable best practice is the Philippines model, which spreads awareness among parents, teachers, community service providers and leaders so that they change their attitude and adopt positive disciplining instead of punishing children. The two-year action plan aims to reduce the widespread practice of corporal punishment in the Philippines.

The model encourages positive non-violent approaches to child discipline in homes, schools, and institutions. It has eight community-based groups and at least 100 local and national policy champions that lobby government to stop corporal punishment. It has also pushed for the enactment of eight local ordinances and discussion on one national Bill on positive discipline. The model also seeks to develop training modules on positive approaches to child discipline in the home, school and communities.

None of us should accept corporal punishment in our homes, public and private schools. Similarly, parents and school inspectors should do more to monitor, protect, and promote the wellbeing of our children. Indeed, a violence-free childhood should be our obligation to all children.

And it should be now that the Ministry of Education and Sports steps in to end this evil practice in our schools. One way is to enforce the Alternatives for Corporal Punishment, introduced in 2008, and or punish teachers who torture pupils and schools on whose watch the torture thrives.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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