CAIRO: On the heels of an Alexandria court verdict in the case of 11-year-old Islam Badr who was kicked to death by his mathematics teacher, education experts held a conference in Fayoum tackling the controversy over corporal punishment.
Rashad Abdel Latif, vice president of Helwan University said that violence occurs in 58 percent of schools in urban areas, and 33 percent in rural areas.
However he explained that corporal punishment is not the only form of punishment that needs to be tackled, highlighting the importance of eradicating verbal insults as well.
Abdel Latif also described private lessons as a “form of abuse due to the financial and psychological pressure it imposes on both the students and their parents.
On the other hand, Salwa Amin, deputy minister of education in Fayoum, said that a few cases of corporal punishment here and there do not make it a phenomenon. She added that in Fayoum, a governorate housing around 1750 schools, very few cases were reported.
However, Aly Laban, member of the People s Assembly s education committee told Daily News Egypt that although corporal punishment is a phenomenon, it is amplified by the media.
According to Laban, there are several reasons behind the spread of corporal punishment, the most important of which is the deteriorating conditions of school teachers.
“The school teacher is the pillar for a proper education system and as long as he is suffering financially and psychologically, he will never be able to function properly.
Laban also blamed the inadequate education budget set by the government, violence in the media and downgrading religious education to a subject whose grades do not count.
He added that there is an overall corrupt education environment that allows unacceptable behavior by teachers, such as smoking inside classrooms and insulting students verbally using bad language.
Echoing opposing sentiments, a group of students were planning a protest in support of their teacher who was accused of hitting one of his students.
The protest was called off after the school principal assured the students that she will handle the situation with the ministry herself, a source in the school told Daily News Egypt.
Last week the Ministry of Education penalized the teacher in question, deducting three days’ pay from his salary.