A video of what initially appears to be a sport class quickly takes on a more disturbing tone. Amateur video footage from a high school in Taiz, southwest Yemen, shows a teacher thrashing students with a cane.
The video, posted online on the October 18, shows around 200 students being humiliated. Lined up in the school courtyard, the students are on all fours as the teacher thrashes them on the behind, one by one.
“The principal never intervenes to stop this teacher”
Ahmed, a 16-year-old student, witnessed this scene from a classroom window.
This was filmed around two or three days before the Eid Al-Adha festival [a celebration that starts on October 14]. Generally, students are subjected to this type of punishment if they get to class late. These thrashings take place once or twice a week. Class starts at 8am here and on that particular day, lots of students ran late.
I’ve been on the receiving end of these canings before, and I can say that, physical pain aside, it’s really humiliating. The teacher who can be seen in the footage, Mr Mansour, is known to be especially violent and harsh. Students are more scared of him than of the principal. And the principal never intervenes to stop this teacher. This type of punishment really shouldn’t exist in schools. We’re nearly adults and they continue to treat us like children!
Not all of the teachers issue these punishments: some get us to buy paper and pens for our classmates as a punishment [basic stationery supplies are lacking in most Yemeni schools]. That’s much less unpleasant. Personally, I’d rather have to pay for something than be humiliated with thrashings to my backside in front of my classmates.
The footage also aroused fierce criticisms on Yemeni social networks:
"Humiliation and corporal punishment have never been the answer ... the school would have done better to call their parents rather than humiliating them like this ..."
"These methods are not worthy of the teaching profession ... he's an imbecile and he's unable to handle students properly ... I thank the student who was brave enough to film the truth about the crooks who work in our schools."
“An administrative investigation is underway and the teacher involved has been temporarily suspended”
A local NGO for children’s rights, “All Youth
”, told FRANCE 24 that they had tried to express their concern about this “scandal” to the Governor of Taiz. But as such efforts have been fruitless, the NGO is now considering taking legal action against the teacher and the school’s principal, Abdelaziz Saïf.
However, the principal stressed in a phone interview that such scenes of group thrashings are rare and that the responsibility lies with the teacher.
On that particular day, dozens of students who had run late were hanging around the front entrance of the school, blocking traffic on the street. This provoked the teacher’s ire and he proceeded to issue a collective punishment. I did not approve of his way of handling the situation. An administrative investigation is underway and the teacher involved has been temporarily suspended.
In 2008, the International Development Association
(IDA), a fund run by the World Bank, stated that education in Yemen was generally "of a low standard due to the poor qualification of teachers." The IDA also indicated that there was a serious lack of educational resources for students.
Since then, several programmes to improve the education system have been launched. This is a major challenge for the government, as the Yemeni population is expected to double within 25 years. Nearly half of the current 23 million people living in Yemen are under the age of 15.