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School CP - May 1998

The Monitor, Kampala, 10 May 1998

A diary of caning, caning, and more caning

By Andrew Smart Wassajja

Memories of childhood are often hard to summon. But the traumatic memories stick forever. Today, they would appear to you as on the day the event happened.

I started school in 1972 at age six. My primary education was spent in St. Peter's Boys Primary School Nsambya and East Kololo Primary School. However, it was in Nsambya that I had my most memorable (read haunting) experiences. I still recall tears rolling down my round cheeks on my first day of school, as if to forebode what awaited me in my wretched school-days. It's still a mystery to me whether primary school teachers are simply trained to administer terror to their pupils. Not even the well-behaved pupil would escape the wrath of the cane-hungry teachers of that period.

I still recall when a teacher would storm a classroom with ten surprise mathematical brain-teasers which you were expected to provide answers to within a record five seconds. I am almost certain that he himself would have no ready answers under the given circumstance.

And naturally, everybody in the class failed them, after which we would all be subjected to indiscriminate caning administered to any part of the body. Monthly tests were also dreaded by pupils. But for the teachers it was the opportune period to polish or to perfect the art of administering corporal punishment. In such times, the whole class would be subjected to caning. Even those who had scored 101% would be punished for being selfish with their knowledge.

When the teachers' salaries delayed they would revenge on the poor pupils. The pregnant teachers were just the devil personified. The nine months of pregnancy of a particular female teacher gave us a vague picture of what real hell could be like. Those whom she detested as a result of the pregnancy, would even wish to leave the school or even die.

Almost every teacher had their unique style of punishment. Some of the styles required an offender to bend forward and touch his feet, while the teacher unleashed the stick on his backside. If you touched the battered area, she would shout imperiously, "You've touched, and I'm starting afresh from (count) zero".

Other teachers were fond of spanking the palms, head, legs and even the feet. Yet others would first wet your butt for maximum effect. We were forced to pad our backside with tyre-tube parts in order to cushion the flesh against the harsh canes. Sometimes we would wear a second pair of shorts.

Are you still wondering that the scars of this torture are almost as fresh as yesterday? However, it wasn't always doom at Nsambya St. Peters'. Sometimes life would be dramatic. Almost everybody at the school, including the headmaster had a nickname. Sometimes this came from the way your nose curved or its size, the size of your feet or even height, etc, etc. Mine was 'Kapipa' (drum) because I always looked too short for my age.

Copyright © 2001 The Monitor.

Saturday Monitor, Kampala, 23 May 1998

UK Ugandans rush kids to K'la schools

By Henry Gombya [in UK]

An increasing number of Ugandans living in Britain are sending their children back home, complaining the children have become "spoilt", "have no respect", are often in trouble with the police.

Many Ugandan parents also believe primary and secondary education in Uganda is as good as back home, and are therefore opting for Uganda schools for the education of their children.

Those that spoke to this correspondent said their children have been missing out on being brought up properly and have therefore become unruly, often threatening to report their parents to the authorities if parents decide to be hard on them.

In the last three months, at least 25 Ugandan children have been returned home by their parents to continue their education there. Most of those who have returned, have known about their fate at the last minute as parents fear children running away from homes.

There is a significant number of Ugandan children in social care after they flee their homes, while others are those whose parents have died here and left them with no one to look after them.

Parents say, "lack of corporal punishment" (a ban on beating children) has left them with no other way of disciplining their children. The parents allege that Uganda children know that if they fail to listen to their parents, they could get the cane, but since they know this is unlawful here, many children have become so unruly and as a result have caused their parents a lot of concern.

Those Ugandans who have found it difficult to send their kids home, have opted instead for private schools some costing as much as 4,500 per term. But these are quite few. Most believe it is much cheaper to send the children to Uganda than spend a lot of money in private education here.

After the children have completed their 'A' Levels in Uganda, they are returned here to go straight into universities which are still far better than those presently available in Uganda. In addition, a British University degree still commands much more respect and opens more doors than that from Uganda.

Children who have been returned home by their parents are mostly from London where a number of comprehensive schools are in deplorable conditions. The worst affected children are those from East London, home of Britain's drug lords. However, children in schools in places like West London, especially Southall, have been affected by Asian criminal gangs that roam the streets there.

Children who have returned here after spending sometime in Uganda have amazed many by their good behaviour.

One Ugandan child who has "done his time" in Uganda and has since returned to London, amazed his friends when he said some schools open on Sundays to give special coaching to their students. Whereas children here who are sitting either their 'O' or 'A' Levels do attend Easter Revision classes, it is unheard of for schools to open on Sundays to give children extra lessons.

Unfortunately, while taking one's children back home may be a good thing, the trouble is that when they return, they are obvious signs that the kids become detached from their parents and after being on their own or with relatives longer than with their own parents. But the amount of suffering that those returned to Uganda witness is enough to make them value their education and work harder for better results.

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Colin Farrell 2001
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