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Minors sex video school identified, teachers on the run

After a 3-day effort, police working with the National Children Authority and the ministry of Education officials have identified the school whose infant learners were filmed by a teacher doing an oral sex act.

The school is Vision Academy Nursery and Primary located in Muduuma sub county, Mpigi district. One of the investigators from the police told our reporter that when they arrived at the school, all teachers had run away, leaving behind only the security guard and the school bursar with about ten pupils, including the two victims who appeared in the widely shared video.

“It is a school with only five classes teaching up to primary three,”  the investigator said. “Officers have started taking statements from different learners and the adults found at the scene. We have been able to get the name of one of the teachers who filmed the learners; she has been only identified as teacher Juliet.”

More information obtained from Gerald Katongole, Mpigi district inspector of schools, indicates that the said institution opened up by someone only identified as Mulagira is not registered by the ministry of Education.

“The school is illegally operating,” Katongole said during a telephone interview. “I had never heard of it and we can not even tell whether those who were teaching these children are really trained teachers.”

URN has also learned that the school operates from a residential house which was rented to them by a family member after the passing on of the owner. The issue at hand came to light when Humphrey Tumwesigye, a concerned citizen and parent, wrote to the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) seeking reprimand for adults, believed to be teachers, behind the filming of two pupils engaging in sexual acts.

In a letter dated October 12, 2022, Tumwesigye who didn’t put his name on the letter says he came across a video on social media showing pupils aged between 5-10 years being questioned by their teacher on camera. The video, depicts two pupils—a boy and a girl—responding to an adult female’s command to replicate what she had observed them doing. The female adult in the video was also wielding a stick giving signals that if they didn’t follow her instructions she was going to cane them.

“Repeat and do what you were doing exactly,” a female voice is heard ordering the pupils, who at first showed hesitation but subsequently, out of fear, accepted the instructions and so re-acted the sexual actions that they had been performing.

Although the video only shows two minors, information obtained by our reporter shows that there were two other pupils who, together with the two in the video, had been found by the teachers engaging in sexual acts.

Tumwesigye, who is a lawyer by profession, says that while he does not support the actions of the pupils, it was improper for a teacher or other adult in charge of looking after children to instruct the students to repeat the inappropriate behaviour, let alone record and circulate it on social media. Tom Matovu, a retired teacher, said that watching the widely-circulated video made him sick to the stomach. He questioned whether the adult in the video had teaching experience.

“We are doomed if the individual telling those kids to repeat what they had done is a teacher. Teachers are trained to know what is expected of children at different developmental stages and how to handle such cases,” Matovu noted.

Matovu added that in their days, when such an incident occurred, only those involved would be handled without even making it known to the entire school, unless it was applicable.

“With younger children, sexual experimentation, typically occurs between friends and has a game-like feel,” he said. “When an adult sees it, typically, he or she is expected to talk to them to stop the behaviour, and the behaviour ends or decreases. Filming them creates more problems.”

Elizabeth Kisakye, a child physiologist and teacher trainer, had not yet watched the video when our reporter approached. But she went into shock when a colleague in the office showed it to her.

“Was this filmed in a school? That cannot be a teacher doing that,” Kisakye who also doubles as an education officer at the Education ministry commented. Many people who viewed the video have raised something similar to what she said in her remark.

Kisakye said by telling the learner to repeat what they were found doing, this was already damaging and stigmatizing.

“While handling errant children one should not expose a child to negative reprisals – including additional physical or psychological harm, or to lifelong abuse, discrimination or rejection by their local communities; this is bad,” said Kisakye.

Filbert Baguma, the Unatu secretary general to whom the initial complaint was sent, says that if indeed those who filmed the pupils are teachers, they need serious re-tooling on how to handle and deal with children.

“You see in private schools sometimes, they handpick people and put them in charge of those young ones. The action that was done is unprofessional on the side of the teacher. Because even when you have found them in that act which is wrong, then you don’t force them to repeat it so that you can see what they were doing. By the time you say repeat what you were doing, it means you have seen them, and there is no reason why you should force them to go back into the same. That is completely unprofessional and should not be heard of,” said Baguma.

Martin Kasagara Kiiza, the executive director National Children Authority, notes that besides the teachers’ code of conduct, many laws in Uganda bar individuals from exploiting children.

“You cannot record and share pictures or videos of minors like that, it is not allowed in the law; the Children (Amendment) Act of 2016 outlaws this as a form of child exploitation,” Kiiza said, adding that of late many individuals have been seen recording and later sharing videos including children which he says should be stopped before the long arm of the law catches up with them.

Besides the Children (Amendment) act quoted by Kasagara, the Computer Misuse act also prohibits the distribution of material that depicts a child engaged in sexually suggestive or explicit conduct. A new amendment of the same act signed by the president last week also bars unauthorized access to data, and prohibits the sharing of data relating to children without authorization from their parents or guardians.

Meanwhile, Baguma and Kisakye say that although the teachers should be chastised for how they handled the situation, there is an underlying problem of child sexual immorality that needs to be addressed.

According to Baguma, sexual immorality has persisted in schools covertly for years, and policymakers, parents, and instructors have all been conspicuously mute on how to solve the problem. Previously, he continued, this was a regular occurrence among teenagers, but given additional circumstances of such youngsters being exposed to pornography through digital tools and media, this immorality is not only intensifying but also spreading to even younger children.

“But we need not to emotionally look at the teacher alone but we also need to look at the source of this behaviour, where the child is getting it from and then also cure it from there because you will send away the teacher but the child will continue to copy and implement with fellow learners,” added Baguma.

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