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Govt tells teachers to stop corporal punishments

Ahead of tomorrow’s World Teacher’s day celebrations, the education ministry has reemphasized the need to wholly ban corporal punishments in schools.

Speaking at Imperial Royale hotel yesterday, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Alex Kakooza, said teachers ought to create safe learning environments for learners at all times.

A teacher conducting lessons in a makeshift classroom

“Any school environment should be free from fear, trauma and anxiety because no child irrespective of gender and background should have the thought not going to school due to corporal punishments,” Kakooza said. “We condemn any violence and mental harassment on our children. Punishment is not an answer but discipline must be upheld in schools all the same.”

He added that the ministry is aware that teachers are challenged on how to discipline learners but alternatives to corporal punishment must be adopted.

According to Kakooza, teachers can instill discipline by mentoring, counseling, withdrawing rewards, rebuking or sanctioning learners without necessarily beating them.

His message comes as the teacher’s umbrella body Uganda National Teacher’s Union (Unatu) gears up for this year’s national celebrations taking place in Moroto district tomorrow (October 5).

The celebrations that will be presided over by the president will be held under the theme ‘Teaching in Freedom, Empowering teachers’.
On this day, teachers have, among others, called for decent working conditions, well-resourced and healthy environments in order to improve quality education.

Unatu general secretary James Tweheyo said this year’s celebrations are special as teachers will also commemorate 20 years of Universal Primary Education (UPE).

“Teachers of this country should be seen as heroes for shouldering burden of UPE. The challenges have been immense but they are now moving towards perfection,” Tweheyo said, urging government to recognise teachers in social dialogues.

He added that the use of unqualified teachers by low-cost private schools should also be henceforth stopped as they undermine the professional role of a teacher.

He, however, applauded government on the crackdown on at least 1,308 illegal private schools that were found with no qualified teachers, classrooms and licenses, among others.

“This was a very good gesture from the ministry of Education but it should not remain as a boardroom decision. Action must be taken within the given timeline of December 31, 2017 to have all substandard schools closed,” Tweheyo said.

Unatu also urged the ministry to have a one-stop center for management of teacher issues as is the case in Kenya with their Teaching Service Commission.

Kakooza said the ministry will soon commission construction of its permanent home in Kyambogo at an estimated $10m (Shs 36bn).

Currently, the education ministry rents premises for its two offices located on Embassy House near parliament and Legacy towers in Nakasero which Unatu finds inconveniencing for teachers.
nangonzi@observer.ug