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Ministry sets guidelines on corporal punishment

She told reporters here yesterday that pupils and students who are canned more than three stokes as allowed in the guideline for corporal punishment in schools to report the matter to their parents or guardians who should see head teachers to address the problem.

Speaking ahead of the International Day for African Child next Monday, the minister said the government was keen to rein back improper corporal punishment in schools, because such penalty causes harmful effects to the well-being of students and it also violates children’s rights. “We have a policy and guideline for corporal punishment in schools where it is the head teachers only allowed to cane a student a minimum of four strokes only.

No one else is allowed to do it,” she said. The minister said the government would pay a particular attention to increasing incidents of severe punishments to pupils and students in schools, where teachers violate the rights of children in pretext of instilling discipline.

Canning students against the guidelines on corporal punishment is cruelty and it affects them psychologically. Schools must be friendly to children,” she said.

Tanzania joins other African countries to mark the International Day of African Child next Monday, where the day will be observed at the regional level to reflect on issues affecting children including their basic rights.

This year, the celebrations have been taken to the regional level where all regions will involve district and municipal councils, ward and village governments as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to mark the day.

They are required to take stock of the progress made and the outstanding challenges towards the full realisation of the rights of children in the region.

The chosen theme for this year is “A child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa” which has been drawn from consultations with children in the region conducted with the help of partners to the Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child under the African Union.

Corporal punishment is lawful in schools in mainland Tanzania under the National Corporal Punishment Regulations 1979 pursuant to article 60 of the National Education Act 1978, which authorises the minister to make regulations “to provide for and control the administration of corporal punishment in schools.”

Government guidelines in 2000 reduced the number of strokes from six to four and stated that only the heads of schools are allowed to administer the punishment, with penalties for teachers who flout these regulations. However incidents of teachers who flout the regulations are rife and mostly go unreported.

Author: HENRY LYIMO in Dodoma

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