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Schools stick to corporal punishment despite ban- Ministry Official

FILE PHOTO: Corporal punishment

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Education and Sports is recommending demotion as one of the punishments that schools can commission against stubborn pupils, instead of corporal punishments.

Henry Ssemakula, a senior education officer who heads the Health/HIV unit in the Ministry of Education said schools still punish their students in ways that have been banned. The Ministry first banned corporal punishment in 2006 and followed up with circulars in 2011 and the latest in 2015.

But according to Ssemakula, the Ministry still receives a lot of complaints of corporal punishment from parents with children in faith-based and private schools around the country. He, however, could not divulge details about the schools and the number of complaints registered.

Ssemakula who was responding to concerns raised by pupils, parents and members of the civil society at an event to mark 30 years of the United Nations Convention on the rights of children, said that in some of the complaints received by the Ministry, administrators had asked parents to find other schools if their children cannot be flogged.

But he hastens to add that the Ministry is equally challenged in enforcement since some parents still believe in the the old saying of spare the rod and spoil the child.

Diana Tibesigwa, an official from World Vision said that while Uganda has made strides in increasing access to education, over the last 30 years, they have failed to ensure that the schools are user-friendly, safer and that children’s rights are protected while there.

She says the situation should be different since the country is a signatory to the convention which requires states to ensure that no child is subjected to torture or other cruel, inhumane, degrading treatment or punishment under article 37.

Nazziwa Maria Goretti, a student of Cardinal Nsubuga Secondary School in Jinja who has been chosen by the European Union as an ambassador to represent Ugandan children at a conference on children’s rights in Brussels next week said the challenge is that when policies on children’s rights are passed, they are never popularized enough to make the public aware of the implication of violating a child’s rights.

“The teachers don’t know these laws. Our teachers continue beating us because they don’t know since even enforcement is also not there. No teacher has been arrested for beating up children”, she said.

She added that while many think that corporal punishment is all about flogging or slapping which cause pain to the person being punished, some teachers use abusive and humiliating language when trying to punish children, an act that results in emotional torture.

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