Prosecutors in the Nile Delta governorate of Damietta ordered on Tuesday the detention of a teacher for four days on accusations of bullying pending further investigations, after he reportedly made degrading references to a student's dark skin colour during class.
Eighth-grade student Basmala Ali said her Arabic Language teacher left her in tears after he referred to her as "black" in a question for classmates to identify the grammatical inflection in the sentence "Basmala is a black student."
The student's mother later filed an official complaint about the incident, prompting the local education department to refer the teacher to an administrative investigation and transfer him to another school.
The teacher, Samy Deyab, faces charges of "bullying and deviation from the requirements of job duty," a judicial source told Ahram Online on Wednesday.
Deyab has denied in TV comments that he called the girl "black," saying he literally used the expression "dark-skinned," and claimed that he would not mock her complexion since he himself is dark-skinned.
The Teachers Syndicate chapter in Damietta has provided legal representation for the accused teacher.
Egypt has recently started to take steps in raising public awareness on the negative impact of bullying on children and society.
In September, Egypt's National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) and the Ministry of Education launched the country's first national anti-bullying campaign, in cooperation with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to protect children from physical and psychological abuse.
The campaign urged children and parents to speak up against bullying in educational and non-educational settings and encouraged them to share their experiences online through the hashtag #IamAgainstBullying.
According to recent global data published the UNICEF, more than one in three students aged 13-15 around the world experience bullying.
Girls are believed to more likely become victims of psychological forms of bullying, with boys more at risk of physical violence, it said.