The Swaziland Government is being sued for E2.5 million (US$185,000) after a child was maimed by a teacher who was dishing out corporal punishment.
It comes after a series of cases of excessive and illegal beatings have been reported in the kingdom.
Former Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Training Pat Muir told a workshop that the parents of the child in Northern Hhohho was suing the Ministry of Education and Training. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Wednesday (11 October 2017) he said, ‘Today, I am reminded of a parent in Northern Hhohho who is currently suing government under the ministry of education and training about E2.5 million. This is because the teacher punished and maimed a child.’
The newspaper said, ‘He added that the Ministry of Education and Training has a number of cases in all regions of the country where teachers have been accused of assaulting pupils under the banner of corporal punishment.
Muir was speaking at a workshop on ‘positive discipline’ designed to sensitise ministry officials on alternatives to corporal punishment which was banned in Swaziland schools in 2015.
He did not give details of the cases but there are a number on public record. As recently as September 2017 it was reported that an 11-year-old boy from Ekuphakameni Community Primary School in the outskirts of Hlatikhulu lost an eye when a cane his schoolteacher was using to illegally beat other pupils broke and splintered.
In 2011, a 10-year-old girl at kaLanga Nazarene Primary school was blinded for life in her left eye after a splinter from a teacher’s stick flew and struck it during punishment. She was injured when her teacher was hitting another pupil, with a stick which broke.
Another pupil in Swaziland was thrashed so hard that he later collapsed unconscious and had to be rushed to a clinic. Six pupils at Mafucula High school were thrashed with 20 strokes of a ‘small log’ because they were singing in class. It was reported that the boy who became unconscious was not one of those misbehaving, but he was flogged nonetheless.
In September 2015, the Times of Swaziland reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after allegedly being beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.
In March 2015, a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged with causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-old pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.
In 2011, it was reported girls at Mpofu High School were being flogged by teachers on their bare flesh and if they resisted they were chained down so the beating could continue. They were said to have been given up to 40 strokes at a time. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported at the time the children said ‘that when they are beaten, they are made to strip naked on the lower body so that the teachers can beat them on bare flesh’.
One girl told the newspaper, ‘The teachers make us lie on a bench whereby if you are a girl you lift your skirt so that they can beat you on bare flesh, if you resist you are chained to the bench.’
Muir told the workshop which was hosted by the Save the Children Swaziland at the Pigg’s Peak Hotel the ministry was working towards eradicating all violence at schools, as well as addressing the negative impact that corporal punishment had on children, who started to hate school.
He said, ‘As a ministry, we have noted that corporal punishment acts as a barrier that keeps children away from school, and our job is to remove that problem in order to achieve the targeted 100 per cent child education goal. Currently, we are training educational officers on positive disciple, unfortunately we still have many of our officers who are not well versed about positive discipline because they are strong believers in the proverbial saying, “spare the rod spoil the child”, but during teacher preparation in teaching college, the ministry of education and training never taught a teacher how to beat children.’
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