Teachers in Swaziland / eSwatini have been reminded in a new government policy statement that corporal punishment of children in schools is outlawed.
It was banned in 2015, but children continue to be beaten, sometimes brutally.
The reminder comes in the National Education and Training Sector Policy from the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) which comes into force in January 2019. It said children should be taught self-discipline and respect for others without fear. All forms of corporal punishment should be replaced by non-violent ‘positive discipline’.
Despite the ban beating is rife in Swaziland schools. As recently as November 2018 it was reported police were investigating St Theresa’s Primary School, Manzini, following an allegation that teachers whipped children to make them do better in their exams. In June 2018 teachers reportedly caned every pupil at Mbuluzi High School for poor performance.
In August 2017 it was reported boys Salesian High, a Catholic school, were forced to take down their trousers and underpants to allow teachers to beat them on the bare buttocks.
In 2011, Save the Children made a submission on corporal punishment in schools to the United Nations review on human rights in Swaziland. It said punishments at Mhlatane High School in northern Swaziland amounted to ‘torture’.
In an overview of the situation in Swaziland schools Save the Children reported ‘The hitting of students by teachers in schools is not limited to strokes of the cane, but includes such methods as a slap with the open hand, kicks and fists.
‘In one case in a school in the south of Swaziland, a young girl was kicked in the groin by her teacher after she refused to lift up her leg during physical education classes. She had told the teacher she cannot lift her leg up because she was wearing nothing underneath. This angered the teacher and earned the girl a kick in the groin.
‘The damage occasioned led to paralysis as the girl walks with difficulty today, and her menstrual cycle was disturbed since then. Although initially protected by the principal and other Ministry of Education officials in Nhlangano, the teacher was eventually arrested after intervention by the girl’s elder sister.’
In a debate in the Swazi Parliament in March 2017 members called for the cane to be brought back into schools. The MPs said the positive discipline adopted in schools was causing problems for teachers because they no longer knew how to deal with wayward pupils.
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