UHASSO wins Uganda-wide ban on corporal punishment

  • Date / 15 August 2006

After a 10-year campaign by members of IHEU member organization UHASSO, the Ugandan goverment has banned corporal punishment in all schools in the country.

Deo Ssekitooleko of UHASSO writes: “We are happy to report that Uganda’s ministry of education has officially banned the use of violence to punish Ugandan school-going children. Ten years ago, UHASSO pioneer members started a project to campaign against such forms of punishment in schools, through seminars in Teachers’ colleges. Common sense finally seems to have prevailed and the government has made an important step forward in the protection of human dignity.”

From the Ugandan newspaper New Vision:

Sunday, 13th August, 2006
By Carol Natukunda

THE ministry of education has banned corporal punishments in schools and colleges, citing physical torture and injury on students.

In a three-page circular dated August 7 2006, the director of education, Dr. John Mbabazi, said the use of the cane or any other form of punishment that could cause injury must stop with immediate effect.

“Corporal punishments for students in schools and colleges must stop forthwith. This applies also to any other form of punishment or act that may cause injury, damage, defilement of disfigurement to the human body. The use of the cane as a disciplining measure shall not be permitted in schools and colleges, as well as nursery schools and infant classes,” Mbabazi said in a circular addressed to all heads of primary and secondary schools, post-primary and tertiary institutions, colleges and polytechnics.

Last week, The New Vision reported that five students of Mandela Comprehensive SSS in Arua had been hospitalised after being severely caned by a group of teachers.

Mbabazi said although corporal punishment is prescribed in the Penal Code of Uganda laws and is usually accompanied by hard labour, the use of the cane in educational institutions is not equally governed by any law.

Mbabazi said the traditional values derived from the use of corporal punishments as a disciplining measure on children had been eroded through indiscriminate use of the cane.

“In practice, the use of the cane has deteriorated into random and irresponsible beating of students by the teachers and fellow students. Even the use of bare hands has at times inflicted a disability of one form or the other on the victims,” he said.

Mbabazi directed schools to review their respective rules and introduce “more professional and acceptable sanctions to replace manual labour and caning. The new rules should be approved by the schools’ or colleges’ boards of governors or governing councils,” he said.

Mbabazi said teachers needed to record any disciplinary action in a punishments book, indicating the type of offence, type of punishment, authorisation and the particulars of the person administering the punishment so that a regular system of records is maintained.

“Where these guidelines are ignored, or abused, the culprits will be held criminally responsible for their actions. They will have to face the laws including the teacher’s Code of Conduct.

“The ultimate goal of the managers of the teaching and learning process is to know and understand the needs of the youth, and to mould them into useful citizens,” he said.

The circular was copied to the Prime Minister, MPs, Cabinet, permanent secretaries, resident district commissioners and LC5 chairpersons. It was also copied to chief administrative officers, town clerks, district education officers, municipal education officers, inspectorates, school management committees, local council education committees, parents and teachers associations

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