At a time many African countries and governments are pushing for a departure from the use of canes as a correctional measure in schools across the continent, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, has absolutely no qualms in deploying canes in schools.
Magufuli has backed a senior government official who caned a group of secondary school students, accused of charring their dormitories.
Regional commissioner Albert Chalamila, BBC reports beat the boarding school students after they were accused of setting fire to their dormitories. The student had all been suspended.
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Tanzania’s local government minister Suleman Jafo heavily criticized Chalamila, saying regional commissioners are not allowed to discipline students. The regional commissioner defended his actions. According to him, he is the boss of the school’s headteacher hence responsible for what happens there.
A video showed a group of students lying face down as Chalamila canes each one, in turn, three times as a large number of students look on.
Magufuli came to the defense of the regional commissioner in the heat of the backlash his action courted from the local government minister. He advocated the law on corporal punishment be changed to allow teachers the freedom to resort to it.
BBC reports that currently, even headteachers are discouraged from resorting to corporal punishment, they have to have a strong reason to do so and are limited to four strokes.
But Magufuli won’t have any of that. He doesn’t believe striking a child is an infringement on his or her human rights.
‘’I have spoken to Mbeya regional commissioner [Mr. Chalamila], and I told him: ‘You did a great job caning them’.
“He should have caned them even more. Those who advocate for human rights should pay for the dormitories – these buildings were built by poor parents’ contributions,’’ the president said.
A death of a Tanzanian teenager whom his family members allege was beaten to death by his teacher revived the debate on corporal punishment in schools.
13-year-old primary school pupil, Sperius Eradius died on August 27 in the northern Kagera province, a few days after being beaten by a school teacher who accused him of stealing.
The child’s death triggered an uproar. The Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), a prominent civil society organization, condemned “this cruel and inhumane act” adding that it hoped “beatings and murders at school will not be repeated”.
Corporal punishment is allowed under a 1979 law but with restrictions.