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Corporal punishment scourge persists

The recent demise of a toddler who succumbed to head and other internal injuries after an alleged beating at school has raised questions as to why corporal punishment persists in schools despite having been outlawed by the country’s education laws.

Following the fate of three-year old Bohlokoa Qhobosheane of Tiny Tots pre-school in Maseru two weeks ago, some parents have come forward to relate their own experiences which even prompted them to switch schools.

One woman who preferred to remain anonymous woman says her little brother was once severely beaten by one of the teachers at that school, leaving him traumatised and afraid to go to school.

The child was then moved to another class but his discomfort led to his parents disenrolling him from the school altogether.   

Another parent who spoke to this publication says he too was forced to change schools only three days into this semester, after his three-year old son had displayed symptoms of withdrawal and depression after enrolling him at Tiny Tots.

“When my kid enrolled at that school in August he started wetting his pants even though he was no longer wearing nappies and could tell you when he wanted to visit the bathroom. We did not read too much into this, assuming it was due to a sudden change in environment and routine.

“To our surprise even after three months the boy would still wet his pants while at school, something he never did at home. He would also cry when we took him to school and would tell us that he no longer wanted to go to school. That was until he told us his teacher did not allow him to visit the bathroom.”  

He advises parents to be observant of their kids’ behaviour and detect any inexplicable and unusual in behaviour.  

Speaking to theReporter yesterday, the principal secretary of the ministry of education and training, Dr Neo Liphoto revealed there had been a similar case of a child who died after being assaulted at the same school in 2018.

Liphoto emphasised that according to the Education Act of 2010 Section 4 (4), ‘A learner shall not be subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which talks about corporal punishment at school’.

“Corporal punishment is strictly prohibited in schools, and teachers are aware of that. Therefore, our plea to schools and teachers to abide by the law.

“The ministry is waiting for investigations to reveal the cause of Bohlokoa’s death and, if it has anything to do with corporal punishment, the ministry will have to deal with the matter as per the Education Act.”

Meanwhile, civil society organisations have also released a statement pleading with the public to exercise patience and restraint around the recent incident at Tiny Tots, so investigations can be completed and the family can heal.

In another development, sympathisers are planning a protest for Friday next week, to demand justice for young Bohlokoa who was laid to rest last Saturday.

Tiny Tots Pre-school has refused to give their side of the story to the media.

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