By Godwin Semunyu

Last few weeks, Tanzania woke up to shocking news of a student in Butiama, Mara region, viciously slashing his teacher with a machete after being questioned for truancy. The attack was so fierce that the teacher narrowly dodged amputation.

Earlier last year, a teacher from Kibeta Primary school in Bukoba was sentenced to death by hanging for maliciously beating a 13-year-old pupil to death. Reports suggested that the student was severely beaten, for up to three hours, after being accused of stealing a female teacher’s handbag.

In many parts of  Tanzania, students spend more time at school than home, with an average of 30 hours a week, minimum. Students are molded by the teachers.

The wisdom and mentorship that teachers provide can be life-changing, especially for younger students. Teachers and students’ bonds are supposed to be an honest and transparent one. Never brutal.

Studies have shown that when a trusting relationship exists between students and their teachers, students are willing to engage in things that they would like them to.

Inevitably, when news of violence between the pair surfaces, it sends a shocking message that mirrors society’s moral gaps and cracks.

A student’s audacity to bring a machete to school, let alone attacking his teacher, says more of how far low we have gone, morally, as a society in raising our children. This is unacceptable and it should be condemned by all fonts.

Similarly, a teacher’s inhumaneness to beat a student to death, connotes life-size cracks in the society. He has been punished by the court of law, but as a society we need to ensure that  we do not return to such juncture, ever again.

Students’ discipline is without a doubt one of the most critical aspects of academic life’s success. But this is a collective responsibility. There will always be a student who will cross the line. Parents and teachers should  both be at task, collectively. Putting an indiscipline student back in line shouldn’t be a blood task.

In recent years, parents are increasingly shouldering the parenting roles to the teachers. But the two share a different opinion when it comes to correcting the wrongs once a child steps out of the line. One area of weakness is parents covering the wrongs.

Most teachers believe that punishment to students who violate the codes of conduct is central in instilling discipline. They think that if children are made to suffer (physically) for misbehaving, they will learn the lesson and not repeat in the future. Debatable.

But parents believe that some teachers go overboard.  Would the teachers apply the same level of discipline measures to their  own children? Doubtful. This has resulted to several court cases where parents are suing teachers for over punishing their children.

It starts feeling like the teachers are slowly taking the foot out of the gas. They seem to be at a loss about addressing the thorny issue of discipline. Resultantly, Some students go astray. Maybe they are left aloof a little too much.

As a society, we need to repair the cracks sooner than later. We need to evaluate scientifically if the old ways are still working.  But for this to work, we need to re-establish the parents-teachers collaboration and enhance teacher-student relations.

Growing up we used to have frequent parents to teachers’ meetings where several academic matters, including discipline, were transparently discussed. If canning was an option, you get your shares in front of your parents. There was no room for overdoing by the teachers of for a student to act wild. Parents and teachers were parallel when it came to discipline. Those days are unfortunately slowly fading under the excuse of busy schedules.

Teachers and parents should work closely to ensure that schools are a safe place for teaching and learning. We cannot afford anymore slip ups.

For comments: gsemunyu@epicpr.co.tz

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