FoRUT, through its child rights project had promoted child rights principles in 37 targeted schools (4 Secondary and 33 Primary) in Port Loko and Moyamba Districts since 2009. FoRUT believes corporal punishment in schools is a violation of children’s rights and it is against the child protection principles. Critical of it is the principles of Do No Harm and the safety and dignity of the child which must be upheld at all times.
The Kulafai Rashideen Islamic Primary School in Kareneh village in the Port Loko District in Sierra Leone had frequent reports of violations of children’s Rights especially the one that has to do with corporal punishment. Since 2009 corporal punishment such as flogging, cleaning of school compound when teaching was in progress, fetching of water and fire wood for teachers, were some of the measures meted out by teachers to discipline pupils in the school. In addition, pupils who came to school late were stretched on the Headmaster’s table being held by four big boys and given 12 lashes on their backs. Pupils were also hired by some community members to work in their farms for a minimal fee given to their teachers.
Based on the above, FoRUT had invested a lot of effort in engaging school authorities in the targeted schools through workshops, and sensitization sessions on the negative effect of corporal punishment on children’s education, formed Children and Young People’s (CYP) clubs to serve as peer educators and child advocate for alternatives to corporal punishment.
As a result of the understanding of the harm of corporal punishment by school leadership, School Management Committees (SMCs) and Board of Governors (BoGs), and Teachers, targeted schools have started implementing alternatives to corporal punishment. Instead of flogging, pupils are given extra school work to do during school or after school hours and they are monitored by a teacher. This has discouraged truancy and fare of coming to school by pupils. SMCs also conduct regular monitoring visits in schools to observe and ensure that the alternative measures are used to discipline children. The significance of this story lies in that fact school attendance has improved due to less fear among children of corporal punishment in schools.
“Thanks to FoRUT for promoting child rights principles in our school, we now have a peaceful and safe learning environment with no fear of inhuman treatment from our teachers’’. (Lamented Michael Kamara a class v Pupil in Kulafai Rashideen Islamic Primary School).