Corporal punishment in schools: too much or too little?

On 28 September 2016, a young school student named Sebastian Chinguku from Mbeya Secondary School was beaten ferociously by three teachers. It was alleged that his teacher, Mr Msigwa gave the class an assignment but some students did not do the work, including Sebastian. 

Sebastian Chinguku says that on the day that the homework was given he was sick. When he got back to school without having done the work, his teacher was angry with him for being disrespectful. He tried to explain to him why he couldn’t do it, and he ended up being severely beaten by his teachers. Even when he questioned his teacher, the teacher basically said it was what he had decided and there was nothing that Sebastian could do about it. Sebastian was injured and had his clothes torn so for a few days he couldn’t go to school at all.

The teacher that was involved in this scandal, Frank Msigwa says that he had given an assignment to the Form 3 class, and clearly told them that he would collect it on that day. When he got into the class, most of them had not done it so he decided to punish them. The girls were asked to kneel down and the boys were asked to do a few pushups. One of the boys said he didn’t want to do pushups, so the teacher told him to kneel down; and the boy refused because his knees hurt. He also said that he was not present on the day the assignment was given. So the teacher told him to sit on the floor and join the rest of the students that didn’t do the assignment, but this boy refused, pushed another teacher (Teacher Deo) aside and said I just want to get my bag and leave.  When he left to go get his bag he was already forming a fist (out of anger) and another teacher caught him outside the staff room and thought he wanted to hit him, this is why he took the boy back into the staff room and took a cane and started hitting him as punishment. The student fought back, broke the first cane and the second cane. And that is when other teachers joined in to help their fellow teacher and so, in the video, it looked like the student was being attacked. 

The Regional Commissioner of Mbeya, Amos Makala, ensured that two of the teachers were taken into police custody and has now left it in the hands of law enforcement and the courts. He also said that citizens, especially parents that have children going to Mbeya day secondary, should not ignore the fact that they have had problems with students in that school for some time. They skip class, abuse narcotics and are generally rude and threatening towards their teachers. Absenteeism has been so high that in a class of 50 students sometimes only 10 students are present. Even after this incident happened, all students went on a strike and claimed that they want all their teachers to be fired.

Twaweza took an interest in starting a wider debate about violence in schools. We provided small grants to four selected journalists to go and investigate this issue more broadly and create more content that will give rise to further media discussions. Our four selected journalists are: Abeid Poyo (Mwananchi) who was sent to Mkuranga, Agatha Kisimba (RFA/Star TV) sent to Bagamoyo, Faraja Simbegeye (Azam TV) sent to Tanga and Florence Mugalura (Tanzania Standard Newspapers) who was sent to Morogoro. Their reports and findings will be psoted here in the coming weeks.

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