A majority of the pupils at Emtfonjeni High School are orphaned and depend on government to pay for their fees.
One parent told the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, ‘The pupils are merely owing the top-up fee as government paid the rest. We have indicated to the school authorities that we would pay at month-end. We did not know the children are being beaten up. The pupils said they were given 10 strokes each.’
School Principal Themba Shongwe confirmed to the newspaper that the pupils were being beaten up for coming to school without the fees.
‘We have been telling them over and over not to come to school without the money but they still come. We had no option but to give them punishment for not obeying the instruction to stay at home,’ the newspaper reports him saying.
When asked how true it was that the pupils were being given as many as 10 strokes he said, ‘If a pupil is told to stay at home but defies the instruction on the first day, you give that pupil a certain number of strokes. But if the same pupil comes to school again the following day, you have no choice but to increase the number of strokes.’
Shongwe said beating the pupils was also a means to make them put pressure on the parents to do something.
Wilson Ntshangase, the Swazi Minister of Education and Training, said the principal was wrong to punish the pupils because they are not responsible for paying their own school fees.
‘The parents are the ones responsible for paying school fees, so the teacher must not vent anger on the pupils because eventually they will start hating school,’ he told the newspaper.
‘The principal must stop beating up the pupils,’ he added.
This is not the first example of children being abused by their schools. There is a long list of human rights violations against children by their teachers and school principals. To read about some of them click here.
CHILDREN CHAINED AND FLOGGED BARE
PROBE VICIOUS SCHOOL BEATINGS
SCHOOL FLOGGINGS OUT OF CONTROL