25 November 2012

Tanzania: Bagamoyo School Riots Not Religion Inspired - Report

THE riots that broke out at a Coast Region school last month did not have anything to do with religious differences but was rather precipitated by a myriad of 'disruptive behaviour' concerning both students and teachers, a probe team has established.

This was said by the Commissioner of Education, Professor Eustella Bhalalusesa, yesterday when briefing reporters on the findings of the probe team appointed to probe the matter that led to the closure of Bagamoyo Secondary School.

The team comprised officials from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and the Ministry of Regional Administration and Local Government.

"Some of the students went on rampage, disrupting peace and tranquility when the school's administration wanted to make reforms and restore order," Prof Bhalalusesa explained Clarifying on the kind of reforms that the school's headmaster wanted to be observed, the commissioner named a few such incidents as students taking the responsibility to maintain cleanliness of the school compound and students set aside time for studies and prayers.

Both Muslim and Christian students on some occasions missed classes under the pretext of going out for prayers. The administration wanted prayers observed without interfering with the school's schedule.

Other such 'disruptive' behaviour included occasions in which some teachers failed to report to classes, going missing for a number of days while attending to personal matters in Dar es Salaam, leaving students idle.

The probe team had given an example of an incident in which a female teacher was raped at the school last year, for which the commissioner vowed disciplinary measures against all those responsible. But who is there to oversee students' discipline if teachers themselves don't stay at the school?" she wondered.

The government has suspended all ring leaders and a number of students pending the outcome of the probe. The commissioner promised that all innocent students would be reinstated in January next year.

Prof Bhalalusesa, who spoke on behalf of the minister, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa, urged teachers in the country to contact their respective district councils in case of any signs of trouble at their schools. "Students should also bear in mind that they are in school to learn and prepare for their future. They should, therefore, refrain from taking part in any unnecessary demonstration over demands that could be resolved amicably," Prof Bhalalusesa concluded.

Bagamoyo District Commissioner Mr Ahmed Kipozi visited the school to get first hand information on the matter. The Coast Regional Commissioner, Ms Mwantumu Mahiza, also did the same and resorted to closing down the school, pending improvement of the situation. The high school is a co-education one. It has 760 students, out of which 100 are girls, and 65 teachers. It was closed on November 5, 2012.

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