Beatings: not just for schoolchildren anymore

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda (Photo by The Citizen)

I’m on vacation, but Tanzany is not.

Alert reader Eric has been watching the news and sent me this update on the corporal punishment movement from The Citizen. High level summary: beating the schoolchildren must be having such success that the politicians want to expand the program.

“All those who are breaking the law will be beaten, and I insist that they should be beaten,” [Prime Minister Pinda] said…

“When the state organs start to hunt down those who are behind the chaos people should not complain that we are using force,” the PM said.

However, Mr Pinda’s remarks did not go down well with Mr Khatib Said Haji (Konde-CUF), who said the statement was an affront to the Constitution, which provided that a person should be considered innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law.

But Mr Pinda said the Constitution referred to law-abiding people.

“What I alluded to are people who defy legal orders by the State. What do you do with such people?” he queried.

So let me get this straight. Protection under the constitution only applies to law abiding citizens. And citizens accused by the government of fomenting dissent, are by definition not law abiding. Riiiiight.

Its the same approach the local government took to the motorcycle taxis not too long ago. Caning teachers who are not working, however still appears to be off the table

The beatings will continue until morale improves …

Corporal punishment

Hitting and other physical abuse of school children is widespread in Tanzanian schools today. From volunteers I have spoken with, teachers often hit kids minor things such as asking questions that the teachers don’t like.

If you were trying to design an educational system to more efficiently drive creativity, inquisitiveness, and love of learning out of students, you would have a hard time topping Tanzany.

Its just so stupid, appalling and sad.

But apparently all those beatings are not quite good enough in the mind of some ministers, though. Here’s a chilling quote from a recent story in The Daily News, titled “Public Schools to Continue Using Corporal Punishment.”

CORPORAL punishment will continue to be instituted in public schools to ensure discipline among pupils and students, the government has said. Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Mr Philipo Mulugo, said in Dar es Salaam during the launch of an education website, www., meant to be a platform for interaction among secondary school students.


Mr Mulugo stressed on the importance of corporal punishment in schools as a means of enhancing performance as the move would keep discipline among the students. “We know the move to re-introduce caning in schools would attract a lot of criticism, especially from those who call themselves as human rights activists,” he said.

The punishment was previously banned on grounds that it violated human rights.


But, Mr Mulugo said absence of corporal punishment contributed to the decline of discipline in schools, and consequently may have contributed to the ongoing fall in the performance in exams. “When I was a teacher in Mbeya one of the schools I taught was highly discipline compared to others because of the use of canes,” he said.

Of course when a local policeman decided to apply the same punishment to under-performing teachers a few years ago, a government minister call that “abnormal.”

Tanzania — stop beating your children!!!

No Strikes And You’re Out

Photo: The Guardian, Khalfan Said

An alert reader recently spotted a great news story in The Guardian newspaper which really encapsulates the police mentality here in Tanzany.

In most of Tanzania you have three levels of private motor vehicle hire. In decreasing orders of cost they are: taxi, bajaj and motorcycle (aka “Bodaboda”). The first two are enclosed passenger vehicles, but the bodabodas are just motorbikes where the passenger climbs on back and holds onto the driver. Sometimes you get a helmet, usually you don’t. Lots of people use bodabodas to get around, and even though most of them are unlicensed and therefore illegal, no one seems to mind very much.

However, of late people have alleged that bodabodas are transporting criminals. What is an underpaid over worked police officer to do? Well, arrest anyone driving a motorcycle of course.

We are determined to fight the criminals … we are arresting motorbike operators because they are suspected to be ferrying some of the alleged criminals around.

– Kinondoni Regional Police Commander Charles Kenyela

Basically the police started pulling over any motorcycle they could find and arresting the drivers. Probable cause? Well they were driving a motorbike weren’t they? And since some criminals ride on motorbikes … well … quo erat demonstrandum, baby.

This approach to policing is brilliant and I see several other areas where they could start applying. First up: politicians. Start locking them up for graft and embezzlement of public funds. Don’t worry about proving your case first, chances are they’ve done something worth locking them up for.

Next, the police should arrest all the husbands they can find. Because let’s face it, if they’re not cheating on their wives, they’re probably out drinking too late or doing something they shouldn’t.

And last but not least, the police need to look their own ranks. After all, they are the ones who pull motorists over to demand “lunch money” and try to extort bribes at any opportunity. If Commander Kenyela could just pass me the keys to the jail cells after he locks all of his staff in, then I think we’ll be able to cut down a big source of a whole lot crime in this city.