Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Thursday, 25 December 2008

Boy-killing Egypt teacher jailed

Islam Amr Badr, photograph from Al Masry Alyoum newspaper
Islam Amr Badr died in hospital after being injured (Photo: Al Masry Alyoum)

An Egyptian court has sentenced a schoolteacher to six years in jail for beating a pupil to death because he had not done his homework.

Maths teacher Haitham Nabeel Abdelhamid, 23, took Islam Amr Badr outside the classroom and hit him violently in the stomach.

The 11-year-old boy fainted and later died in hospital of heart failure in the city of Alexandria.

The court was told the boy had four broken ribs.

Abdelhamid was convicted of manslaughter.

He said he only meant to discipline the pupil and did not mean to hurt anyone.

The teacher's lawyer was quoted as saying in court: "Hitting [a child] is not banned in schools and my client did not break the law."

National outrage

Observers say the case has been seen as a shocking reminder of the failings of Egypt's state education system.

The incident, at Saad Othman Primary School on the outskirts of Alexandria in October, caused national outrage.

Islam's father, Amr Badr Ibrahim, said others should have stood trial with the teacher.

"The problem is the teaching and the teachers because they cannot find good teachers," he said.

"The minister of education should be the first person to be accused - how can he agree to let such a young man teach children?"

In the state education system, young, inexperienced and under-resourced teachers often struggle to control classes of 60 to 100 children.

The Egyptian government says it is bringing in education reforms - including new teacher testing.

It is also trying to tackle violence in schools and has issued new statements on the prohibition of corporal punishment.

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