School punishment goes wrong
Teachers play a key role in helping the government achieve its education access and learner retention goals. But, as SAM BANDA JNR writes, teachers’ efforts to ensure that learners are given all the support to do well in class do not always end well.
Fifteen-year-old Innocent Nkolokosa, who is a learner at Nansengwe Primary School in Lunzu, Blantyre, and five other learners are nursing wounds after a teacher allegedly meted out physical punishment on them as a means of putting them in check.
The learner claims that he and classmates were ‘punished’ for making noise in class and disturbing the peace of other learners.
It is alleged that the teacher punished them because they were making noise in class.
The boy’s father, Edwin Nkolokosa, also claimed that the son went home with wounds on both knees.
He alleged that he believed his son’s version that the injuries were sustained at school.
“The children allege that the teacher sent them out of class after finding them culpable of noise making in class.
“They [the children] further allege that they were told to ‘walk’ on a concrete slab on their knees,” the father said.
Another parent, Agness Wilson, said son Lloyd was among the learners that were allegedly punished.
“He [Lloyd] actually did not report for school on Wednesday,” she said.
Mzati Youth Organisation Executive Director Lawrence Kumpama said they received a report on the issue from concerned parents.
“We deal with different cases, hence community members saw it necessary to report the issue to us,” Kumpama said.
Meanwhile, Nansengwe Primary School Deputy Head teacher Monya Nyalugwe has said they have been informed about the issue.
He said they are investigating the issue.
“I cannot say much for now. All I can say is that we, as a school, do not tolerate any form of torture on learners,” Nyalugwe said.
According to the End Corporal Punishment organisation report for 2022, the laws of Malawi seem to be silent on the issue of the right punishment to be meted out in school.
“We have been unable to establish whether or not a ‘right’ to administer ‘reasonable punishment’ or similar is confirmed in written legislation, but legal provisions against violence and abuse are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment in childrearing,” the report reads.