An Egyptian teacher in Sohag was suspended on March 29, for a month for beating a third grader - the fourth incident reported in the last month. According to the Education Department of Sohag, authorities were notified that the teacher beat the child with a shoe in class for doing poorly.
The deputy education minister in Sohag, Abdel Aziz Atteya, said the case was under investigation.
This is the fourth reported incident of violence and physical abuse toward students in Egypt in a single month.
These incidents are raising new concerns in a country that already lacks confidence in its education system. The World Economic Forum's 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Report already had Egyptians grumbling after the country hit rock bottom in the rankings. It was listed as the worst country in the world in the quality of primary education among the 148 surveyed countries.
The Global Competitiveness Report is an aggregate of 114 indicators grouped under 12 categories of "drivers of productivity and prosperity," including institutions, financial markets, technological readiness, and health and education, among others, and is based on the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Indicator.
Overall, Egypt ranked 118 th, a drop of 11 places from the previous year.
It is common to hear parents complain about the quality of education. One of the biggest complaints is that teachers force children to attend private classes after school, a further burden on many families who can barely afford the basic education fees.
“Teachers on below-subsistence wages use a combination of physical and verbal intimidation to pressure children into signing up for the private lessons that teachers need in order to earn a living wage," according to a report by the British think tank Chatham House.
But the problem seems to be escalating to much farther than tuition fees and low quality education, as reports of physical abuse in school rise in the country. According to a report released in December by the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, attacks on children have increased by 55 percent between January 2014 and the end of October compared to the average over the past three years, with half of the registered cases of violence taking place inside schools.
Meanwhile, investigations into abusive teachers rarely lead to more than suspension, suggesting that the authorities are out of touch with the immense and deep impact those conditions inflict on the children’s forming psychologies and personalities.