On April 5, The New Vision reported that a pupil of Luzira Progressive Junior School in Kampala died because of corporal punishment at school. The school denied it and the case is under criminal investigation. Nevertheless, one undisputed fact of the story is that the boy who was well before he reac
On April 5, The New Vision reported that a pupil of Luzira Progressive Junior School in Kampala died because of corporal punishment at school. The school denied it and the case is under criminal investigation. Nevertheless, one undisputed fact of the story is that the boy who was well before he reached school that day, died.
Whether the physical blow of the punishment killed him, or the fear and anxiety that overwhelmed his fragile heart is the contested territory of two differing post mortem reports, one of which has performed the miraculous feat of existing before the boy died. Whatever the investigation discovers, we owe his memory the effort of extracting lessons from the incident.
The humiliation, fear and anxiety of corporal punishment is as damaging to a child as the physical pain of corporal punishment.
Recently, a girl suffered paralysis as a result of the severe beating by her teacher at Katikamu SDA School. At Mandela Comprehensive Secondary School in Arua district, five girls were hospitalised as a result of corporal punishment. But how many teachers have been punished as a result?
These incidents are not isolated cases. There are countless cases of corporal punishment that are not reported in the media. These do not occur behind closed doors without witnesses. In a recent study of 1,400 children in different parts of the country, more than 60% of them said they regularly experienced physical violence at school, let alone humiliation and other forms of violence.
But closing down schools that infringe government policy that has prohibited corporal punishment would only undermine the education system.
Prohibiting corporal punishment is the first step. The total response has to be systematic, thoughtful and sustained over a period of time. The current approach of our school system has to be re-evaluated.
Producing capable, creative and imaginative students should be more important than producing those who can excel at short term memory tasks. Under such a system, there would be no place for corporal punishment.
The writer is the co-director, Raising Voices
Empowering students can end corporal punishment