Egypt cracks downs on school ‘e-bullying’

A screen shot from a video shows an Egyptian schoolchild implores his teacher to let him sleep.

Cairo: Egyptian authorities have punished several school workers found involved in shooting a video clip showing a boy crying for sleep at the class. The video, which went viral online this week, outraged many Egyptian parents and child rights activists, who decried it as tantamount to ‘e-bullying’.


In the footage, the six-year-old child is seen crying while calling his class teacher a “Hajja” (a term referring to Muslim female pilgrims) and begging her to let him sleep for a while. The teacher appears in the video holding a stick. Caning is strictly prohibited in Egypt’s schools.

Investigations found out the footage had been shot by a teacher at a primary school in the Cairo suburb of Al Sahel on the first day of the new school year that started in Egypt on Sunday. The boy was at school after he spent three months bed-ridden due to a leg fracture, according to his father.

“My son does not want to go to school again after knowing about the video, which has made him a laughing stock,” the boy’s father told a local television station. “We were surprised by the spread of the video on social media. This has caused us harm. It was his first school day after a long illness. It was natural for him to cry. He addressed his teacher as a Hajja out of respect because she is an old woman,” added the father, identified as Ahmad Saleh.

The state National Council for Childhood and Motherhood condemned the video, saying it violates the country’s Child Act.

“This video is considered a type of e-bullying against children and must be removed from the media,” the watchdog added.

Some parents have demanded authorities for tougher action against school bullying.

“This video clearly shows that not only students but also teachers indulge in bullying,” said Khalid Shaaban, a father of three schoolchildren. “Their misbehaviour is worse because they are supposed to be role models,” he added.

On Wednesday, the Education Ministry said it had identified those involved in the video incident and decided on penalties against them.

The ministry’s spokesman said the teacher, who had shot the video, was punished by having 10 days of his salary deducted. He was also transferred from the school to an administrative job. The class teacher had a five-day cut from her pay due to her “non-professional conduct”, while the head of the school was found guilty of negligence and had three days salary deducted, the spokesman added in a statement.

The incident came weeks after Unicef and Egypt’s National Council for Childhood and Motherhood launched a nationwide campaign against bullying with the participation of the country’s big-name actors. Backers of the campaign have set up the popular trending hashtag #I’m_against_bullying.

More than 20 million students are estimated to attend schools in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country of 100 million people.

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