SHORTLY after the bell for the morning prep rang at 5:00am, the director called me to his office, locked it up and forcefully removed my dress and nickers. He removed his trouser and slept on me. This is the chilling account of an eight-year-old girl in a primary school in Mukono.
SHORTLY after the bell for the morning prep rang at 5:00am, the director called me to his office, locked it up and forcefully removed my dress and nickers. He removed his trouser and slept on me.
He instructed me not to reveal the incident to anyone and ordered me to go to class. But after the morning preps, I was in deep pain and decided to tell my brother who is a Primary Five pupil in the same school.
This is the chilling account of an eight-year-old girl in a primary school in Mukono.
It is a similar story at Nyamwegabira Primary School. The headteacher reportedly defiled and impregnated a 15-year-old pupil. He allegedly connived with the girlâ€™s parents and offered them sh800,000 to conceal the matter. Fortunately, local leaders got wind of the matter and notified the Police. Now the headteacher is on the run as the Police hunt for him.
Cases of teachers defiling pupils are on the rise. Within a space of four months, the Police have registered multiple cases of defilement in schools. Although defilement remains one of the worst crimes against children, it is more shocking when the perpetrators are teachers who are supposed to be role models.
According to the 2010 police crime report, over 7,564 cases of defilement were registered.
Haruna Mawa, a programme officer for information at ANPPCAN Uganda Chapter, says of every 10 girls that are defiled, eight are defiled by people close to them. These are usually their teachers, parents and relatives.
A similar research funded by the World Bank, says annually, about 4% of upper primary school girls in Uganda are defiled by their teachers. This implies that about 43,000 girls in P5 to P7, roughly between the age of 10 and 14, are sexually abused by the very people who are meant to groom them into upright citizens.
In Kenya, the situation is not any different. Kenya Teachersâ€™ Service Commission statistics indicate that in 2009, 600 teachers were accused of defiling their pupils for over five years.
Why the behaviour
â€œSome teachers have issues. It could be they are frustrated in life, or their private lives are in tatters. There is no way a sane teacher can sleep with a child they teach,â€™â€™ says Faith Mbabazi, a teacher and counselling psychologist at Uganda Christian University, Mukono.
She notes that teachers take advantage of the young girls because they lack the assertiveness to say no. A Primary Six pupil should be able to say no to a teacher who asks her for sex. But for some reason, even many secondary school girls cannot say no.
Teachers lure girls into sex with promises of gifts and good marks.
A teacher at Atuku Primary School allegedly asked one of his pupils to take his books to his house. On arrival, he gave her sh1,700 and bread. This was enough to lure the young girl into sex.
Counsellors say even without the gifts, girls fear the consequences in the event that they refuse to give in to their teacherâ€™s demands. In some cases, teachers threaten to fail or expel them from school should they refuse.
Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo, an educationist and state minister in charge of higher of education, insists that this problem is because teachers are not trained about how best they should handle young girls.
â€œMany schools emphasise academics, forgetting other core values. As a result, we have many careless teachers handling young pupils,â€™â€™ he observes.
Peter Wandera, the headteacher of Bukedea Secondary School, warns fellow teachers that having an affair with a student is against the teachersâ€™ code of conduct.
He calls for regular seminars and debates where defilement, its causes, effect and prevention are emphasised.
Parents perpetuating the vice
According to the Police, parents too are to blame for the consistent cases of teachers defiling pupils.
â€œSome parents are so interested in money that when a teacher defiles their daughter, they connive with the teacher and get paid to destroy the evidence. There are defilement cases when you can practically see that the girl is underage, but her parents insist she is 18,â€™â€™ Christine Alalo of the police child protection unit says.
Mawa says the education ministry is not doing enough to address the issue.
â€œIt has consistently failed to take the necessary disciplinary actions against teachers who contravene the professional code of conduct. For a teacher to use his authority to defile a child is a gross violation of the professional ethics and an abuse of power. Such a person does not deserve to be allowed to hold that power again,â€™â€™ he says.
Macklin Kyarimpa, a parent, shares a similar concern.
â€œSchools are professional institutions that are supposed to be managed by teachers who value children. The education ministry should ensure that the licences of teachers who are convicted of defilement are cancelled. Their names should also be published to ensure that they are not employed in any other school.â€™â€™
Education ministry policy
However, Emmanuel Kusemerwa, a senior education officer in charge of basic education, says: â€œIf it is proved beyond doubt that a teacher has defiled a pupil, the ministry cancels his appointment, he is de-registered and his teaching certificate terminated; and then the law takes its course.
Effect of defilement on girls
Defilement does not only lead to the rupturing of the girlâ€™s sexual parts or causing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. According to Muyingo, it also has a psychological implication.
â€œA girl defiled by her teacher, may grow to hate books, men and everything around her if she is not helped in time,â€ he adds.
Teachers need to undergo several capacity building seminars on handling pupils.
â€œThey have to fully understand the legal, social, and psychological implications that come with such acts,â€™â€™ Muyingo warns.
He adds that to foster the campaign further, headteachers should, in their staff briefings, constantly refresh teachers about such matters.
Schools too should ensure they employ at least one qualified counsellor to listen to childrenâ€™s problems, and help them. He says the law to check teachers who defile pupils is very lenient; and has to be reinforced.
However, Mbabazi advises parents to play a key role in parenting their children.
â€œParents have to be there for their children. Children fall prey to men because their parents have not talked to them about such issues. They have to teach them to be assertive.â€™â€™
Alalo advises girl students to talk to someone should they sense a teacherâ€™s ill intentions. And that if no one helps, they can notify the Police.
Mawa calls upon the education ministry to suspend teachers who are reported to have defiled their pupils but their cases are still on trial, until the matter is resolved. The names of those who are convicted should be publically disclosed so they are not employed by any other organisation.
HOW TO AVOID BEING DEFILED
VIEWS FROM THE PUBLIC
It is not only in the primary section that such cases exist. Actually, more exist in the secondary section. It is just that they never get known. And all because girls want money, good marks and favours.
Rachael Namono,a working lady
Parents should sit their children down and advise them on early relationships and cross generational sex. They should advise them on the danger looming when they associate so much with men.
Josephine Vivian Nakiganda, Senior Two, Kisozi High School
This is lack of professionalism. When parents send their children to school, they assume teachers are other parents. The licences of teachers who break this trust should be withdrawn.
Although some minors can be tempting, teachers are mature not to fall into this trap. They very well know that these girls are still young. And that their role is to help them focus on books.
Grace Achan, a parent
Today, society is rotten. So, students need relevant guidance from church leaders, parents and even genuine teachers on how best they can handle teachers who come with offers so they can take them to bed.
Allan Kokas Apalun, a student, UCU
All these cases are coming up because we do not have a strong and strict law against teachers who indulge in sex with minors. We need a law that can state that before someone qualifies as a teacher, they should be married.
Jonathan Fred Walutsyo, a parent
To be in a sexual relationship, both parties should be above 18. If teachers who are meant to nurture young girls into upright citizens defy this law, they should be disqualified and imprisoned right away.
Ronald Kaihura, a student, MUBS
Teacher defiled me and told me to keep quiet