PARLIAMENT: The Minister of Education, Janet Museveni, has blamed the rising cases of sexual violence in schools on moral decadence in the country.
She was on Tuesday appearing before Parliament’s select committee investigating cases of sexual violence in schools and institutions of higher learning to explain policy undertakings and other measures undertaken to curb the vice.
The matter was fronted by National Youth Female MP Anna Adeke, following several complaints and accusations that implicated lecturers, school heads and teachers for harassing their students.
The minister said that whereas there are existing laws and policy frameworks, moral decay was the main cause.
“Children face sexual harassment at home, in schools and along the roads and since such cases originate from the communities, the MPs are best champions for this fight,” said Ms Museveni.
She added, “As society, we have such problems; it is larger than the ministry. We shall do what we can but we should all get involved.”
The minister said that they have visited at least 66 districts and found that there are cases of sexual violence.
The ministry presented a 2012 report on sexual violence which indicated a surge in cases to a tune of 78 per cent in primary schools and 82 per cent in secondary schools.
Ms Angella Nanfuka, the technical gender expert in the ministry presented the findings and said a lot has changed since then, with cases dropping to only 25 per cent for primary schools in 2015.
Asked why the ministry seems to take no action against head teachers and lecturers implicated, Ms Museveni said many cases get derailed by corruption on one hand and prolonged litigation on the other.
“It is very difficult to go into names of people but there was a head teacher who was named and he was reported to police which took up the matter and as we waited for what would come out, we were told that there was no case against him,” Ms Museveni said.
The First Lady said the ministry can only act in line with the law.
In some cases, she said, offences are reported in the media and before action can be taken, the accomplices bribe the victims and teachers into silence.
“We find it very difficult to keep such a teacher even when we don’t have evidence so what we can do is simply transfer him [but] at times we have nothing to do because where they are transferred there are also people and he will do the same thing,” she added.
Citing recent cases of Lugazi SS, Kibuli SS and Lubiri SS among others, Mr Mwine Mpaka (Youths Western MP) tasked the ministry officials to explain actions taken and why in some cases teachers are simply transferred.
In his response, Mr John Chrysostom Muyingo, the minister of State for Higher Education said that matter was still before competent authorities whose findings shall inform the next course of action.
The Minister insisted that, “it is not a policy for the ministry to transfer teachers who abuse learners. If it happened it was an error.”
He said that all schools have got senior women teachers for both primary and secondary and learners should be encouraged to make regular use of them.
Ms Museveni said that parents should also “routinely talk to their children rather than leaving them to servants and teachers.”
What others said
Angella Nakafeero: We encourage all learners and the girl child in particular to come out and speak out for these cases to be reduced.
Prof Wasswa Balunywa (Principal MUBS): The cases at MUBs are not any different from other institutions of higher learning, sex for marks, unwanted pregnancies. For the teachers, we have internal mechanisms but we cannot control what goes on in hostels [and] when something goes wrong, the victims tend to keep it to themselves.
Prof Eli Katugunka (VC Kyambogo): Female students seduce lecturers into sex for marks, they are lazy and spend most of their time clubbing only to end up wanting marks; many fear to speak up.
Parents also send their children to schools with little or no sufficient support, causing them to fall prey to ill-intentioned men and fellow students who can meet their needs.
Robinah Rwakoojo (MP, Gomba East): I do not support sexual violence but I also don’t support such cases of provocation, some students like partying [and] that is what comes out; they dress skimpily and walk in a provocative manner.