Civil society, Govt form coalition to tackle corporal punishment in schools

Raising Voices Executive Director Hope Wembi and by Cleophas Mugenyi, commissioner for Basic Education at the education ministry (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Raising Voices Executive Director Hope Wambi and Mr. Cleophas Mugenyi, commissioner for Basic Education at the education ministry (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA – Raising Voices, a nonprofit organization working toward the prevention of violence against women and children in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other child-based NGOs have formed a positive discipline coalition to help tackle rampant violence against children.

This comes as Uganda joins the rest of the world on Sunday, April 30, 2023, to commemorate the international day to end corporal punishment.

The positive discipline coalition presents non-violent means as alternatives to corporal punishment and will be implemented in schools and communities through different activities.

In her remarks delivered by Cleophas Mugenyi, commissioner for Basic Education at the ministry, the state minister for primary education Joyce Moriku Kuducu said that despite the ban of corporal punishment in 1997 by the government, some teachers are still practicing it, which is discouraging learners to love some particular subjects.

She says corporal punishment has physical consequences for learners such as physical injury, which can lead to broken bones, infections, physical illness, and death among others.

The most recent incidences of corporal punishment in schools registered by the Ministry of Education including a case in Kisoro district, Hoima district, and Nakasongora district, are a clear indicator that learners are still suffering from Corporal punishment.

Speaking on behalf of the Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN), Ms. Marjorie Sseruwo notes that the coalition brings together individuals and organizations who are passionate about preventing violence against children to raise awareness in schools and communities about the dangers of corporal punishment while offering the solution in the use of positive discipline.

“We urge all district education officers, teachers, parents, and the media to join the positive discipline coalition and commit to learning about positive discipline popularizing the idea and for schools and parents to practice it.

Timothy Opobo, the executive director at AfriChild Center Makerere University says It’s not necessarily limited to our country or our region globally it speaks to 1.3 billion children experiencing corporal punishment annually.

He says that SDG 16.2 speaks against violence because corporal punishment is a form of violence and falls under physical violence. “In Uganda, and globally, physical violence still stands out as the most common form of violence. So corporal punishment is actually the most common form of violence or the most prevalent form of violence”, he notes.

“Because we conditioned people to respond to an image of fear. So that is why some of us cannot work in our offices without our bosses. This is the same reason why I went to a school where were beaten and beaten from home when I was beaten in primaries, and then I was beaten in secondary. But the problem was, I wasn’t beaten alone. And when we went to university where there was no one to beat, many people just fell through the cracks. Because there is no one to beat. And this is the issue that a lot of what we think we are correcting is creating long-term challenges,” he adds.

Ms. Hadijjah Mwanje, Board Chairperson High Sound for Children

The Founder of High Sound for Children, Hadijjah Mwanje welcomed the initiative saying that it is a very good idea that brings together different organizations and CSOs in the Child Rights Advocacy agenda.

“We like it because this is a problem that has existed for generations. We had normalized corporal punishment. Now this is a good way to start to speak about positive discipline. I think we have spoken a lot about corporal punishment now used but if we get to a level of speaking about the alternative, which is positive discipline, it goes a long way to knocking in the heads of people that actually we can do something about this. She says

“So I am very happy about the initiative, High sound for Children is very glad to be part of the coalition. We will continue to preach this in our media clubs in the schools where we work and in the communities that yes, corporal punishment was banned in schools, we’ve been struggling, but there is an option. So I thank everyone who has been a part of this, and we shall continue to preach the gospel of positivity, she says.

Corporal punishment is the most common form of violence against children in Ugandan schools.

It includes any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light, as well as non-physical forms of punishment that are cruel and degrading.

Any corporal punishment violates children’s right to respect for their human dignity and physical integrity, and their rights to health, development, education, and freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Its legality in the majority of states – unlike other forms of interpersonal violence – violates their right to equal protection under the law.

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