By Fahami Wasswa & Lawrence Kitatta
Muhusini Bifemengo, a secondary student in Bugembe died in 2011. He succumbed to illness, having been bedridden for two years.
On one fateful day in 2009, a mathematics teacher caned him for failing exams. Witnesses then said the Senior One student was caned 'till the cows came home'.
Muhusini returned home with severe back pain and collapsed on his tiny bed. He would be bedridden for the next two years till he succumbed to his permanent deformation.
His sister, Hikima Bifemengo of Wakaliga-Nateete says: “My brother died miserably. He had severe back pain and could neither walk nor sit. Doctors discovered that his spinal cord had been damaged. As you know medics in our local hospitals are negligent and there is never medicine, so he had to die."
"If the teacher had not caned him like a beast maybe he would still be alive," she adds.
Another pupil, Adam Musira, was hospitalised at Mulago Hospital after a teacher hit him on the head! Adam was diagonised with cancer.
Adam Musira was diagonised with cancer
Joweria Kantono, his mother, says: “My child was studying at Mutumbula Primary School in Mayuge. A teacher caned him for failing mathematics.
"He came back home bleeding. His head started swelling and if it was not for the newspapers it could have been worse.”
Dr. Dan M. Kanyike of Mulago said Musira had mild cancer, but the ferocious caning aggravated it.
Caning or what is known as corporal punishment is a felony that can fetch the culprit up to ten years.
In 2006, the ministry of education and sports banned corporal punishment in schools. This followed a campaign by pressure groups against the torturous acts committed by teachers on innocent children.
Punishing a child should be a correctional measure and not inflicting injury. Anslem Wandega, executive director, ANPPCAN Uganda Chapter says: “The use of violence in disciplining children is more of an egoistic act than a disciplinary issue.”
He adds: "Corporal punishment not only denies a child an ideal environment for education, development and growth, but also psychologically, children suffer trauma, lose confidence and self-esteem which in the long run reciprocates in the behaviour of the victims."
Amid this though, ASP Ketty Nandi of family and child protection unit at Kampala central police station notes that caning in schools has considerably reduced.
“In the last two years we have received only one such case. The law prohibits caning even if it's one stroke! There is no reason for a teacher to beat a child yet there other humane disciplinary.”
Nandi says a good teacher does not punish to inflict pain but to discipline.