Death of 11-Year Old Alexandria Boy Brings International Attention to Discipline in Egypt Schools

Washington, DC, November 02, 2008 --( A mathematics teacher in Alexandria is being detained on manslaughter charges in Egypt after allegedly beating an 11 year old student to death for not completing his homework. The teacher claimed that he only intended to discipline the boy, but the incident brings to international attention the larger problem of corporal punishment in the Egyptian school system.

The BBC reports that after using a ruler to punish him, the teacher is alleged to have taken the young boy outside the classroom and hit him violently in his stomach. The young pupil fainted and later died in hospital of heart failure. The teacher is reported by Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Alyoum to have told the prosecutor that he was only trying to ‘discipline the boy, not to kill him’.

Coptic Orphans has seen numerous cases of damaging corporal punishment in Egyptian schools. In January of 2007 we reported about what happened to Samira, a young girl from a rural area in Egypt. Beatings with a ruler from Samira’s teacher left the tendons in her fingers ravaged and her fine motor abilities destroyed. Samira waves her hands in the air as if to shake something off when she talks about the ten lashings that her teacher often inflicted. “The tenth is always the worst, because the teacher hits the hardest of all.”

Mina, another child who participated in the Not Alone program, received beatings from his teacher, who extorted him by physical punishment and lower exam grades with demands that Mina hire him for private tutoring. Mina courageously told his Coptic Orphans Rep, Nargis, of the abuse. Rep Nargis confronted the teacher without success, and then reported the teacher to the school administration, who opened an investigation. The police investigator who interviewed Mina after the case was surprised with Mina’s rare initiative and courage. The investigator told Mina, “you are a brave child.”

Coptic Orphans addresses physical abuse in schools in individual cases through the advocacy of local volunteer Reps like Mina’s and through regional workshops that teach children and families how to stand up for their basic rights in Egypt.

But according to Coptic Orphans executive director Nermien Riad, legislation in Egypt is needed to give teeth to the ban on corporal punishment in Egyptian schools to re-enforce a new culture that refuses to tolerate child abuse in Egyptian society.

Coptic Orphans is an award-winning international Christian development organization that unlocks the God-given potential of disadvantaged children in Egypt, and so equips them to break the cycle of poverty and become change-makers in their communities. Since the founding of the organization in 1988, Coptic Orphans has touched the lives of over 14,000 children in Egypt.

Coptic Orphans
Nathan Hollenbeck