Abraham Obadia, a 20-year-old student from Amuria High School in Amuria district, is currently grappling with a life-altering spinal cord injury allegedly inflicted by his teacher.
Obadia, who was a senior five student at the time of the incident on September 26, 2023, is presently undergoing treatment at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital, where he has been hospitalized for nearly three months. He was reportedly assaulted by his teacher, Samuel Opio, after arriving late for morning classes.
Since the incident, Obadia has lost the ability to sit or walk independently. Despite seeking treatment at various private orthopedic hospitals before returning to Soroti Hospital, his condition has not improved. Recounting the assault from his hospital bed, Obadia stated that the teacher struck him in the waist while he was lying down, resulting in instant paralysis.
Following the assault, the teacher provided Obadia with pain relievers, but his condition only deteriorated, prompting his family to intervene and withdraw him from school. Despite Obadia's attempts to inform his parents about the incident, the school administration initially prevented him from contacting them.
Dr. Billy Outeke, one of Obadia's attending physicians at Soroti Hospital, indicated that the student's condition may necessitate back surgery if there is no improvement in the coming days. He attributed the paralysis to injury-induced suppression of the nerve supplying blood to the affected area, stating that a decision on potential surgery would be made after monitoring his condition for the next 2-3 weeks.
Meanwhile, Obadia's father, Joseph Opolon, lamented the financial strain the situation has placed on the family, leading them to sell their land to cover medical expenses. Despite his efforts to seek assistance from the school, Opolon claimed that the institution has been unresponsive and has shielded the teacher from accountability.
Paul Omoit, a fellow student who witnessed the assault, expressed shock at Obadia's sudden inability to walk after the incident. He recalled the teacher's aggressive behavior towards students and the school's failure to address the issue adequately.
When contacted for comment, the school administration declined to provide a response. The Amuria district education officer, Kelen Acom, claimed ignorance of the incident.
Opio was initially arrested but later released on bond. As a result of his injuries, Obadia's academic future remains uncertain, raising concerns about the enforcement of laws prohibiting corporal punishment in Ugandan schools.
Corporal punishment is outlawed in Uganda; however, a national survey on violence against children revealed that 75 percent of students experience physical abuse in classrooms. Humanitarian organizations like Save the Children have criticized the prevalence of corporal punishment, citing violations of children's rights and calling for stricter enforcement of existing legislation.
Save the Children highlighted the need for greater awareness among teachers and parents regarding the illegality of corporal punishment and its harmful effects on children's well-being. They emphasized the importance of holding perpetrators accountable and providing support for victims of abuse, urging authorities to prioritize child protection in educational settings.Credit: The Observer