A student attending Bishr Bin Al Walid Primary School in western Riyadh was killed by a classmate on Monday morning. After a fight broke out between the two reportedly 12-year-olds, the victim, Motaz Al Harthi, was thrown to the ground and choked to death.
Surveillance cameras located inside the school captured the entire incident. According to the Saudi Ministry of Education, other students intervened in an attempt to pull the boys apart, eventually succeeding.
Teachers then took the boy to an empty room to administer emergency first aid. During this time, they contacted the Red Crescent, who arrived 20 minutes later to transport him to King Khalid University Hospital. However, the boy was pronounced dead prior to his arrival to the hospital.
According to the school's official witness report, the boy's guardian was also contacted at the beginning of the incident but was unable to make it there in time from the eastern province of the capital.
Hamad Al Wahaibi, Education Director-General in Riyadh, along with other education employees, offered Motaz's family their condolences on Tuesday during the boy's funeral. Prince of Riyadh Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz as well as Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Bin Mohammed Al-Shaikh also sent their sympathies and commiserations to the deceased's guardian.
Several users online expressed disbelief in the situation. Many blamed the incident on bullying, the lack of attention at schools from educators, and the cramming of students in classrooms that can't handle their big numbers.
"The ministry of education should decrease the number of students in classrooms by opening up more schools, hire psychologists, reevaluate students' discipline and the punishments implemented, hire supervisors who can follow up on students and regulate their behavior," one Twitter user wrote.
Another one argued that "this is what happens when the culture of bullying starts spreading among students, without the presence of punishment."
People in the kingdom are livid
"After the death of an elementary school student inside the school!! The school's principal hasn't quit! The education director hasn't quit! The education minister hasn't quit! The conscience is impaired!"
In 2018, the Saudi Education Directorates launched a campaign called "Rifq" (Mercy), in an attempt to diminish violence at schools across the kingdom.
"Schools are meant to be a second home to everyone who is in it. They should feel safe and secure in them. The first thing the program will do is educate students and their parents on the definition of violence as well as its causes and effects. The campaign aims to protect the students from anything that affects their psychological, educational and social well being," the director of media relations and spokesman for the education directorate, Ali Al-Ghamdi, explained at the time.