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Mbale Head Teacher Arrested, Pupils Storm Police

On Thursday, more than 200 pupils of the school located in Industrial Division stormed Mbale Central Police station protesting the arrest of their deputy head teacher, Jerry Kisewa Othieno, who is accused of beating and injuring a pupil of the school who later lost her eye.

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Police in Elgon region are investigating four teachers of Nabuyonga Primary School in Mbale Municipality for allegedly inciting their pupils to storm a police station.

 

Diana Nandawula, the Elgon police spokesperson, says Robert Jackson Wangwe, the school head teacher was questioned on Friday evening in connection to the incident that occurred on Thursday afternoon. Nandawula says Wangwe was released after he pleaded with the police that he was organising for the Primary Leaving Examinations due on Monday and Tuesday. She says he was allowed to go for the examinations and he is expected back at the police on Wednesday together with three other teachers. Nandawula, however, declined to reveal the names of the teachers.

 

On Thursday, more than 200 pupils of the school located in Industrial Division stormed Mbale Central Police station protesting the arrest of their deputy head teacher. Jerry Kisewa Othieno was arrested on Thursday morning following an incident on October 22nd in which he is accused of beating and injuring a pupil of the school who later lost her eye.

 

It is alleged that on that day, Othieno came to class and found the children making noise. A pupil who witnessed the incident said he asked them to keep quiet but one of them, Swabra Namugga, remained talking. He warned her twice and on the third occasion, picked stick and hit her.

 

Chaos immediately followed when Namugga began to bleed from the eye. School authorities rushed her to a nearby clinic and later to Mbale Hospital, where doctors there advised that she be taken to Benedictine Hospital in Tororo which has eye specialists.

 

Othieno fled the school and went into hiding until Thursday morning when he was arrested. His arrest, however, did not go down well with the pupils who claim the victim was in the wrong.

 

The pupils marched from their school along Nabuyonga Rise; ran through Pallisa Road and Republic Street and stormed Mbale Central Police station demanding for the release of their head teacher.

 

Gerad Tushime, the Mbale District Police Commander together with other officers who were present at the time tried in vain to persuade the children to go back to school. Police then threatened to use teargas and paper spray on the children. The police led by the DPC escorted the children up to the school.

 

The action of the children has shocked the police who now accuse the school authorities to be behind it. Nandawula, the Elgon Region Police spokesperson, says the police summoned Robert Jackson Wangwe, the school head teacher to explain how the pupils got out of the school to storm the police. She says the police also opened a case of inciting violence against the head teacher as investigations continue.

 

//Cue in: “At around 12:30pm…

Cue out: …as investigation continues.”//

 

The head teacher has since declined to comment on the pupils’ protest.

 

Six years ago, the Ministry of Education imposed a ban on corporal punishment in schools after several children were hospitalized after they were beaten by their teachers. The Ministry proposed alternative disciplinary measures that did not involve caning. Only a handful of schools in Mbale district have, however, complied with the ban.

 

Overall in Uganda , according to African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), physical violence accounts for 81 per cent of children who have been beaten at school despite the Ministry’s policy against corporal punishment.

 

ANPPCAN figures show that some other 34 per cent children are denied food for extended periods at a time, 82 per cent are made to do difficult work as a form of punishment while 18 per cent have been locked up in a room.

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