Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Another week, another example of children terrorised by their teachers at schools in Swaziland.

This time, a 10-year-old Swazi girl was blinded for life in her left eye after a splinter from a teacher’s stick flew and struck it during punishment.

And she wasn’t even the child being punished.

She was injured when her teacher was hitting another pupil, with a stick which broke.

Here’s what happened. The teacher was caning a pupil on the hand with a stick, when the child pulled his hand away before the stick could strike it. The stick struck the table and it broke, causing it to splinter and hit the other child who was at the back of the class in the eye.

At the back of the class! Just how hard was the teacher hitting the child? No wonder he moved his hand out of the way.

Doctors confirmed that the girl would never see in the left eye again.

Pupils at kaLanga Nazarene Primary school have been left ‘traumatised’, according to the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom.

Parents are now questioning how safe their children are at the school.

And who can blame them? There are far too many reports of teachers abusing children through the misuse of punishment. Only this past week it was reported that a boy collapsed unconscious after he was flogged with 20 strokes of a ‘small log’.

As I wrote on Wednesday (23 February 2011) there are many, many cases of Swazi children beaten and humiliated by their teachers. And these are just the ones that we know about. In all cases, the teachers and school principals involved have broken the rules relating to infliction of punishment.

This cannot be allowed to go on. The Ministry of Education needs to undertake a thorough investigation into the use of corporal punishment in all its schools and where it finds teachers and principals have illegally inflicted punishment they must be prosecuted. Then, Swaziland must abolish corporal punishment and substitute it for more humane sanctions.

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