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Zambia: Teachers suspended for sexually abusing pupils

By NKWETO MFULA

THREE teachers accused of sexually abusing pupils at Ndola Girls Technical High School have been suspended. This follows a directive by Minister of Education Dora Siliya who was disturbed by the development.

Dora Siliya

Copperbelt provincial education officer Johnwell Siwingwa confirmed the development in an interview in Ndola on December 1. Mr Siwingwa said the named teachers were suspended on Tuesday.

“We are putting evidence together. The investigations were instituted some time back and we did not want to disrupt classes because pupils were writing their examinations. We wanted to do it after they closed school,” he said.

Mr Siwingwa said the office of the District Education Board Secretary is currently carrying out investigations.
He said the case will be handled by the district disciplinary committee which will look at the evidence and make recommendations to the provincial office.

The provincial officer said when the report is ready, it will be submitted to the Ministry of Education permanent secretary and human resource and administration.

He said the report will be ready before the end of this week.
On Tuesday Ms Siliya said girls from the school had informed her about the alleged abuse in a letter.

“This is quite sad because this is a boarding school where very intelligent girls go, with the hope of being nurtured into mature and responsible adults. So, until investigations clear these teachers, I would rather they are suspended immediately so that no other child is put in harm’s way,” she said.

And REBECCA CHILESHE reports that 36 pupils at Ndola Girls Technical High School have been interviewed after reports that three teachers are sexually abusing pupils.

Ms Siliya said during a press briefing at her office yesterday that as part of investigations by school authorities into the alleged abuse, most of the girls who were interviewed alleged that sexual abuse was going on.

“After yesterday’s [December 1] suspension of the three teachers, 36 girls were interviewed and indications are that the sexual abuse has been going on. After investigations into this matter are completed, the culprits will have to face the law,” she said.

Ms Siliya said sexual abuse in school and anywhere else should be fought so that parents stop worrying about the safety of the environment in which their children are studying.

Ms Siliya said most teachers in the country are committed to work and that it is the few teachers who want to put the profession into disrepute who must be dealt with.

The minister told journalists in Lusaka on Tuesday that she had received an anonymous letter from a group of pupils who have made serious allegations against the three teachers.

Ms Siliya said she decided to make the issue public because of the manner in which the letter was written, with specific details and dates.
The Minister said her directive is a strong message to other teachers, parents and guardians to ensure that children are not abused or victimised at any time.

Ms Siliya said schoolchildren must continue to grow up in an environment where they feel safe and loved.
She visited the school early this year and said she found wonderful girls who are eager to learn.

Ms Siliya said in this era of HIV/AIDS, sexually abused children could end up being infected and sexual abuse should be given the attention it deserves.

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