DC sanctions whipping, to ‘stop truancy’ in schools

02Nov 2019
The Guardian
DC sanctions whipping, to ‘stop truancy’ in schools

TUNDURU District Commissioner Julius Mtatiro yesterday ordered a teacher to whip students accused of truancy, defending it as a measure to improve academic performance.

He gave the green light to officials in charge of education in the district to flog students who stay out of school, while also ordering parents of truant students to avail themselves to the schools where their children are registered.

Mtatiro arrived at Ligoma Secondary School located in Tunduru District, Ruvuma Region yesterday and ordered one of the teachers to administer three lashes to three students he accused of chronic truancy.

The drama was caught on camera and the video clip went viral on social media for the better part of yesterday, sparking debate yet again over corporal punishment.

This comes one month after Mbeya Regional Commissioner Albert Chalamila early last month personally whipped 14 students accused of masterminding a move to set on fire two dormitories at Kiwanja Secondary School in Chunya District after teachers confiscated 16 mobile phones from high school students.

As the RC underwent a storm of criticism from rights activists, President John Magufuli commended Chalamila for disciplining the students.

Explaining his action yesterday, Mtatiro said it was meant to end truancy in schools and eventually improve academic performance in the district.

The DC said whipping was a disciplinary measure that is helpful to make the learners understand the importance of education because there are plenty of challenges in the district, including teenage pregnancies.

“I order all parents of truant students in primary and secondary schools to present themselves to the respective schools, or else they (parents) will face consequences,” he said.

Mtatiro emphasized his point by giving the green light to ward education officers and coordinators as well as teachers to administer corporal punishment on all truant students.

The DC blamed truancy in the district on parents and guardians who were engaging the learners in cashew farming instead of sending them to school.

“The government spends 23.6bn/- every month on free basic education for the students to learn but some parents keep students out of school. This is unacceptable,” he said.

Following the news of RC Chalamila caning the students, Human Rights Watch reacted with a call for abolition of corporal punishment in Tanzania.

In a statement posted on its website, the New York-based advocacy NGO termed the whipping of students retrogressive and child abuse.

“Tanzania should make necessary reforms to ensure children’s safety in schools. It’s time President (John) Magufuli joined the dozens of African leaders who have outlawed corporal punishment in schools,” the statement had underlined.