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The Observer, Kampala, 24 July 2011
Report says 81% of kids caned at school
By Haruna Mawa Papique
A new report on violence against children in schools shows that 81% of pupils have been beaten at their schools, despite a ministry of Education and Sports ban on the practice.
The report, carried out in April 2011, indicates that caning pupils remains the most common form of violence in schools administered as a form of punishment. Most school administrators admitted caning pupils a maximum of two strokes, the report says.
"In Mukono district, one sub-county reportedly passed a by-law that allows teachers to cane as long as they don't exceed two strokes. While in other schools beating is authorized by Parents and Teachers Association so long as it does not inflict harm on children. It was also reported that beating in some schools is restricted to head teachers only," reads part of the report.
Majority of the perpetrators are teachers at (73%); followed by fellow children (15%) and parents/guardians (12%) who are called to schools to settle disciplinary cases involving their children.
The study covered areas of West Nile, Lango, Acholi and the central region; it attracted 1, 015 primary school children and 52 professionals including teachers, head teachers, school management committees, PTA members, police, government and NGO experts in education and child protection fields, at district and national levels.
It was carried out by ANPPCAN (Uganda Chapter) and Child Hope UK who hoped to identify and establish the nature, causes, effects and prevalence of violence against children in primary schools and propose viable recommendations to address the vice.
"Majority of the pupils (92%) stated they knew where to report this violence in situations where abuse takes place and were able to mention possible places where they could do so. However, the majority of the pupils were not reporting these cases for fear of being expelled from schools since some of the offenders were the very teachers to whom these offences are supposed to be reported to," said Timothy Opobo, ANPPCAN's coordinator for research and advocacy.
Besides caning, the report notes other forms of physical violence: denial of food for extended periods of time, locking children in rooms, assigning them difficult work and kneeling in front of the class. Most teachers are convinced that for the African child, there are no better alternatives than caning. It was also revealed that beating children has religious underpinnings.
Religious parents reportedly cited Bible verses especially Proverbs 23:13-14 which says, "Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod and deliver his soul from the devil."
Mathias Luyombya, a resident of Kaleerwe wants the caning banned.
"I think most teachers are frustrated with low pay and the poor standards of living. How can a man trained to teach children beat a pupil who has failed to correctly answer 1+1? Something must be wrong with our education system, because the moment you beat a child, he or she will not only fear you -- the teacher -- but also the subject you teach, which is a mother of failure," Luyombya said.
But Julius Kamugo, a parent in Bweyogerere, thinks those advocating for a total ban on beating in schools are jokers, who don't understand the culture of learning.
"I think we need to emphasize talking to a child as the first step but where a child remains defiant, a maximum of three strokes should be administered.
"We cannot encourage teachers to only do the talking because some children are extremely stubborn. I would rather we regulated the caning than banning it," Kamugo said.
However, Zaharah Namukose thinks a ban on beating children will enhance learning in schools as children will learn without fear.
"A pupil can even say, 'I have understood,' to please the teacher when in the actual sense nothing has been conceptualized," said Namukose, a mother of six.
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