A file photo of Students attending class on the first day of their new school year at a government school in Giza, south of Cairo, September 22, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
The family of a schoolgirl whose teacher has been detained over bigoted comments about the student's dark skin colour said they will reconcile with the teacher to end his detention.
Arabic teacher Samy Deyab was ordered Tuesday to be detained for four days pending investigations into accusations of "bullying" after he called eight-grade student Basmala Ali "black" when he asked her classmates to identify the grammatical inflection in the sentence, "Basmala is a black student."
The mother said in TV comments late Wednesday that they will not press their daughter's legal rights in court after she requested reconciliation in sympathy with her teacher.
"Basmala requested that her teacher must get out of prison considering his age and health condition," Manal Gharib told the privately-owned Al-Hayat satellite TV channel.
The local education department had already ordered the teacher be moved to another school following an official complaint by the mother.
The incident has spurred public controvercy, prompting the education minister to apologise to the student on TV and invite her to his office. The provincal governor of Damietta, where the school is located, also visited the girl at school to demonstrate her empathy.
The teacher had denied in TV comments that he called the girl "black," saying he literally used the expression "dark-skinned," and that he would not mock her complexion since he himself is dark-skinned. He was officially accused of "bullying and deviation from the requirements of job duties," a judicial source told Ahram Online on Wednesday.
Egypt has recently taken measures to raise public awareness about the negative impact of bullying on children and society. In September, the 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.