Catholic schools and colleges in Zimbabwe

I had bad experiences in a Catholic all-boys college in Zimbabwe. There are many Catholic colleges for secondary schooling in Zimbabwe which might still be implementing harsh physical punishments.

In particular my place of education was called St George, and there was a form of punishment called the ‘ferular’ , which was a beating paddle of 12 inches long by 4 inches wide and a centimetre deep, tightly wrapped in rubber. The ferular was used to beat students on the palms of the hands, and when I received the ferular it would feel as though hundreds of hot pins were bashed into my hands, the pain would last up to 5 minutes and the bruises would last for a few days after.

There was another form of punishment called ‘the cuts’, which was the ‘cane’, and I recall a student showing me the scabs that formed after receiving the ‘cuts’.

There were few Catholic clergy at the school, but the Senior Jesuit administrator of the College would sometimes overlook the beatings. There was at least one other Priest at the college and two Jesuit Brothers that I can remember. The teachers performed the punishment but the Priests and the Jesuit Brothers could have taken  the responsibility to stop the punishment but did nothing to prevent the harm of boys at the college.

I am British, and I have sought legal help in the United Kingdom, but the abuse I experienced happened outside of the U.K , and the Government of Zimbabwe allowed physical punishments in their schools. The British legal system does not do anything to help British citizens who were abused abroad.

I believe that the Catholic Church is responsible for allowing the punishments to be allowed in Catholic colleges, and the abuse might still be going on in Zimbabwean schools today with the full knowledge of the Catholic Church. I believe that the Catholic Church is turning a blind eye to abuse going on in their Catholic-orientated places of education which must still be legal in some countries.

If possible, I would hold the Catholic Church in Rome accountable for not intervening to stop the abuse in their Zimbabwean colleges, and this is another revelation of extreme punishments that are performed in current Catholic places of education. In today’s modern 21st Century the Catholic Church should not just turn away and allow countries to use their own laws to allow abuse and physical punishments, and I wonder why the Catholic Church has done nothing to prevent the Catholic faith from being brought down.

One Comment

  1. It is unfortunate to hear your experience and how you feel. This, maybe was a shock to you but physical punishment is what l would call normal procedure in schools in Zimbabwe and not just Catholic Schools. l also believe these punishments were administered after some unappropriate behaviours not just physically beating you. l believe a lot of reform has to be done in the country as a whole before we reach to issues like physical punishments in schools. With economic and political hardship being the biggest issues for the past 12 years, l guess you can see my country still has a long way to go. The school you went to is among the best in the country and imagine what is happening to other schools below it. Most of us have took those experiences as part of growing up and l honestly know how you feel and hope you will find a peaceful resolution to your issue.

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