13 October 2017

Uganda: Impose Harsh Penalties On Defiler Teachers

editorial

The media on Thursday reported a shocking incident that occurred in Toroma Sub-county in Katakwi District. Pupils of Okokorio Primary School raided their headmaster's house to rescue their colleague whom they allege the school head was sexually abusing. Indeed, the reaction of the children is novel.

Speaking out against sexual crimes and taking such action by pupils should be commended. Communities, too, should be sensitised and encouraged to reject and report such cases to the relevant authorities so that drastic action is taken against the culprits.

In the police Biannual Report of 2015 (Jan-June), sex- related crimes reported numbered 10,163, a slight decrease from the numbers in 2014, which was 10,763. Defilement was the most overwhelming with 8,954 cases, with the previous year, 2014 being 9,551 cases.

However, many defilement cases remain unreported, especially in rural areas. Moreover, many of the reported cases are not persecuted despite some arrests being made.

According to the police spokesperson for Eastern Kyoga Region, Mr Michael Odongo, charges of aggravated defilement will be levied against the head teacher, Mr Julius Okwaput. The concern should be whether indeed he will be prosecuted, as many teachers in the past have been reported to have defiled their pupils yet justice for the victims is not delivered.

This case highlights the need to strengthen the regulations and policy as regards teacher - student relations. How far does the Ministry of Education go to ensure that proper guidelines are not only set, but that they are also followed through?

Early this year, a prominent educationist was accused of fathering children with his students. As a result, pressure was piled on the mother ministry to streamline teacher-student relationships.

Sex for marks crime has been reported to be happening at some universities. Why are teachers losing their moral campus that fast? What strategies being put in place by stakeholders in education sector to check this crime? The reality is that there are hundreds more of such incidences. While some parents may not be aware, others have their hands tied by their circumstances, including poverty.

Education institutions should be tasked to come clear on policies regarding teacher-student relations that often end up in teachers defiling the children they teach. Parents should demand for action. And like the pupils, be vigilant to stop this vice in our society. Let us not let our education system whither under the weight of sexual manipulation of pupils by teachers.

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