My son was hit at school today by his teacher.
This time with a hose and stick.
I have visited my boys’ school, Talai` Al-Mustaqbal School in Dukki, Cairo (translated Leaders of the Future), many times to complain at all levels about my sons being hit.
The last time was about three weeks ago when my son told me he was slapped by one of the school’s vice-principals.
I went to the school and asked to meet the principal of the Arabic section, where my son is. The first question I was asked by everyone – on the way to the principal and at the principal’s office – was: what did your son do?
The logic behind this question shocks me.
Is there any possible thing a child can do that justifies him being hit by a teacher? If I go to a school to complain about a teacher hitting my son, am I to stand instead and defend my 12-year-old child? Am I to spend my time proving he did not deserve to be hit rather than spend our time as parent and school administrators finding out what on earth the teacher was thinking when he hit a child and how to punish him??
When my son was slapped by the school’s vice-principal he was playing a game with the student sitting next to him. The game was: who can step on the other person’s foot first. This was happening during a class. It was wrong. But it does not warrant a slap on the face. Nothing does.
The principal would not allow the conversation to go further without context. What did your son do? He repeated on and on. I eventually told him the story. His response: Islamic Shari`ah allows the hitting of children in some situations.
I was appalled at this response even though it was not the first time for me to hear it at this school.
It is not my place to go into a detailed analysis of Islamic Shari`ah’s stance on hitting. But I know that this is a blatant misunderstanding of Islamic Shari`ah on the part of the teacher. And even if this teacher’s understanding of Islam is as such, this does not mean he has any right to practice his beliefs on my children.
The next question by the principal and attending teachers was: “Well if we don’t hit the child to punish him, what other forms of punishment would you suggest?” This question was asked to mean there were no others they could think of and I was to come up with the alternatives for them.
Am I mistaken to be taken strongly aback by this line of thinking??
Has the school never even thought to consider humanitarian forms of punishment such as detention, extra homework, or bringing in the parents? Have these never crossed their minds?
This conversation with the principal ended when he said that he’ll follow the school code in my son’s situation: if the child does something wrong in the future he will be expelled rather than hit.
I had nothing further to say to this man. I just had nothing further to say.
In Egypt, a ministerial decree was issued in 1992 prohibiting corporal punishment of children in schools.
This decree is of little relevance after the current Minister of Education, Ahmed Zaki Badr, made a statement to the Upper Parliament shortly after his appointment saying, “Teachers have lost their reverence ever since hitting was prohibited from schools.” He continued, “Every father and mother should not register an official complaint against a teacher when their child is hit.”
So you tell me who I can go to to ensure my child is protected when I send him to school every morning.
There have been cases of severe injuries and deaths in Egypt as a result of teachers hitting children. I am not sending my son to school in order to come back to me some day in a casket because he was punished for being a little naughty in class, as most 12-year-old boys tend to be.
What did my son do in school today in order to be hit by a hose and stick by his teacher, you ask?
Here is how my son related the story to me:
Today, Monday March 12, 2010, my son Mohammed was sitting in Arabic language class at his school, Talai` Al-Mustaqbal. My son is 12-years-old and is in the 7th grade. His teacher, Mr Mostafa, was explaining something and asked a question he was not expecting to be answered. Mohammed told the boy sitting next to him what he thought the answer was. He was right. After the teacher gave the answer to his own question, Mohammed turned to the boy next to him and said, “See?”
Mohammed was later told that his teacher believed he laughed at this stage during class.
The teacher asked Mohammed to go stand in the corner for around 15 minutes with his hands held up. Mohammed did.
After the 15 minutes ended, the teacher asked one of the students to go get a stick for him. The student came back with a thick, rubber hose. The teacher told the student he wanted a stick instead. The student left to look for one. In the meantime, the teacher hit Mohammed on his back around four to five times with the rubber hose. When the stick arrived, a thin, wooden stick about a foot long, the teacher then hit Mohammed again on his back with the stick. I checked my son’s back. There are no marks. But Mohammed tells me the hitting was hard enough to make him cry. Mohammed was then asked to stand for another 15 minutes in the corner with his hands held high.
This is the incident from today. It is not the first. Last year, Mohammed was punched – yes punched – in the side of his head by a teacher.
I have instructed Mohammed that the next time a teacher tries to hit him that he is to run directly out of the classroom to the main principal’s office, a kind woman who is the uber-principal of both the Arabic and English sections of the school. I instructed Mohammed that he is not to allow a teacher to hit him.
Mohammed is only 12-years-old. It is not fair to give him this responsibility. This is the only way I know how to protect him right now.
I have spoken with the children’s father and we have agreed we will remove the boys from this school at the end of the year. This does not mean the problem is solved.
I still have no one to go to when my child is abused at school.
My child is still unprotected.
What happens at this school happens at schools all over the country.
I am a mother who sends my children to school in the morning and all I ask is that they come back safe to me in the afternoon. I could care less any more about the poor education they are receiving in the Egyptian educational system. All I want is for my child to be safe.
Tell me what to do.