Students Suffer Double Punishment

MATANY, NAPAK DISTRICT

When the girls joined Kangole Girls Secondary School they had only one major goal on their mind; to study and excel in their education. They were not prepared for the bizarre happenings that awaited them.

Lo and behold, some of their male teachers who are charged with the responsibility of protecting and guiding them, have turned into their worst nightmare. Whenever darkness descends upon this school situated in Napak District in Uganda, fear grips the girls. They live through the night terrified by the likelihood of being attacked and sexually assaulted by their teachers. The randy males even have the temerity to enter into the girls dormitories with their torches to literally make illicit demands.

Whenever the traumatized girls seek solace by reporting to their headmistress; they suffer double tragedy. She accuses them of indiscipline and misconduct and in more bizarre and extreme cases expels them. She recently sent home 30 girls for participating in a protest against the alleged sexual harassment by teachers.

In their protest, the girls accused the school administration of failing to take action against the male teachers they had identified and named as the sex predators.

One of the suspended girls told the Turkana Guardian that since the beginning of the school term, male teachers had been entering girls’ dormitories and sometimes following the girls to the bathrooms while flashing torches at them: “We have on several occasions raised this issue with the headmistress but no action is taken against the teachers. They continue with their disgusting ill manners until we decided one Monday to hold a peaceful demonstration,” she said.

“At times when we report the issues to the headmistress, she labels us as a deviant lot lacking in discipline. She has many times suspended those who report teachers to her,” protested another girl.

During the demonstration, the police rushed to the school when matters threatened to boil over. The agitated girls had threatened to set the school facilities on fire.

The school headmistress Sister Anna Nadulya declined to talk to journalists. For two consecutive days she ignored our calls. However, the resident District Commissioner for Napak, Mr. Nahman Ojwee said that the strike by the student had been contained. He decried lack of communication between the students and the school administration.

“Yes there was some weakness between teachers, administrations and students but I went and held a two day meeting with the administration and some parents to help resolve this thorny issue. Studies have since resumed,” he said.

The District Commissioner added that the suspended students were identified as ringleaders and they would be allowed back in school following a Board resolution on the matter.

Joseph Lomonyang, the Napak district chairperson said that school heads must learn how to relate with students in a humane way.

Stella Namoe, the Woman Member of Parliament for Napak district called for special investigations into the allegations and other grievances raised by the girls. She said that if found guilty of sexually harassing the girls, then the teachers must face the full force of the law. The MP asked the school administration to immediately recall the suspended girls to allow them continue with their studies.

On the other hand, the parents of the suspended girls have threatened to take the school administration to court for what they called unlawful suspension of their children: “Our children were protesting against sexual harassment because it’s their right to be protected. However, the school administration, instead of protecting them victimizes them away,” said Samuel Lokol one of the parents.

It is the prayer of the parents that criminal elements that exist within the school’s teaching fraternity will be exposed, shamed and punished to enable their daughters excel and realise their dreams.



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