Activists outraged over ministry’s stance on hitting students

Education Minister Ibrahim Ghoneim should be tried for inciting violence in schools and violating student rights, said education and human rights activists on Thursday.

The calls for Ghoneim’s prosecution come after the minister’s recent statements that a teacher has the right to hit students in the classroom.

“Ibrahim Ghoneim has committed a heinous crime with his statements that support violence against students, under the pretext of restoring the status and dignity of the teacher in the classroom,” read a joint statement issued by the Egyptian Center for the Right to Education, the Community Committee of the Right to Education, the Egyptian Coalition of the Rights of the Child and the Teachers Independent Syndicate.

The statement highlighted an incident in Luxor on Wednesday in which a primary school teacher cut the hair of two female students as a punishment for not wearing the hijab, calling the act “a blatant violation of personal freedoms and rights, as well as a practice of violence in schools. [It is an] inevitable result of the statements of the education minister.”

The activists demanded “the criminalization of violence against students, the organization demonstrations in all schools immediately and the trying of the education minister as the main instigator of violence in schools.”

Education Ministry spokesperson Mohamed al-Sorogy responded to the accusations, saying the ministry has nothing to do with the incident in Luxor. He noted that Egypt’s educational system includes 900 thousand teachers and 18 million students, all governed by educational regulations.

Al-Masry al-Youm quoted Ghoneim on Sunday as saying that hitting students in schools is not a problem as long as it did not cause pain, stressing that he would not allow a student to humiliate a teacher. Ghoneim made the remarks at a press conference after visiting a number of schools in Gharbiya Governorate.

The minister denied Al-Masry Al-Youm’s report on state-run television on Monday.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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