A NON-Governmental Organisation HakiElimu has reiterated the need for ‘positive punishment’ be emphasized in practical and on-the-job training for teachers to help them avoid cruel punishments.
The development follows a recent incident where a Form One student, Gloria Faustine (14) from Mwinuko Secondary School, in Ilemela,Mwanza Municipality, died after being hit by a stone while digging rubble as part of punishment for speaking Kiswahili.
Speaking about the incident on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam, HakiElimu Executive Director, Dr John Kalage said that the punishments given to students must be based on the type of offence or behaviour intended to be corrected.
He added that, the punishment should also focus on helping the children to be better instead of hurting and creating fear on them.
“We realized that our teachers have the responsibility to teach and build students’ appropriate conduct…however, they can perform this role through positive punishments,” Dr Kalage underlined.
He added: “We are aware that our defense and security organs are continuing with the investigation to ensure justice is obtained …According to the information issued by Mwanza Regional Police Commander (RPC),Wilbroad Mutafungwa, the Police Force is holding the school headmaster and the teacher on duty for investigations,” he said.
In particular, Dr Kalage noted that, it is important to understand that punishing students for academic reasons such as inability to speak English, write or calculate in Mathematics cannot be solved by giving students a punishment that does not make them learn.
“For example, in this scenario, the teacher could order the students to write an English language essay, read many story books, find some English vocabularies and use them in a sentences, or to organize discussions that will be conducted in English and ensure all students participate …this punishment would help students learn the language rather that the punishment given to them,” he added.
He further noted that, in many secondary schools there is a principle that says ‘Speak English Only! No English, No Service’ adding that the situation creates a big vacuum in learning and teaching English or any other language.
“Learning is the process of building relationships between things that the student knows and new ones that he does not know…some or most of the things student knows are in his/her mother tongue which is Kiswahili,” he added.
In a related development, HakiElimu called on the government to reconsider suggestions made by stakeholders regarding the use of Kiswahili as a language of instruction at the secondary level.
“The Education and Training Policy of 2014 makes it clear that the government will ensure that Kiswahili, English and other foreign languages are taught fluently and effectively at all levels of education and training…preventing the use of Kiswahili in secondary schools violates policy’s expectations,” he added