A regional official in Tanzania has been sacked for ordering police to whip primary school teachers as a punishment for arriving at school late.
In a statement, the government said the official had broken public service rules and humiliated the teachers.
Nineteen teachers were caned in front of their pupils after an inquiry into poor exam results at three schools.
The inquiry blamed teachers for being late or not showing up for work and not teaching the official syllabus.
The official who ordered the canings in the northern town of Bukoba, district commissioner Albert Mnali, told AFP news agency that it had been the right way to treat the teachers.
“These teachers often report late for duty and some of them are fond of being absent for several days,” he told the agency on Friday.
“They deserved to get corporal punishment.”
But Deputy Education Minister Mwantumu Bakari Mahiza called the incident “unfortunate and utterly absurd”.
The government asked Mr Mnali to explain his actions and later issued a statement confirming the commissioner had been sacked.
“The government has followed up the issue and heard the explanation from the commissioner,” the statement said.
“It has been concluded that Mnali’s decision is unacceptable and humiliating to teachers, contrary to public-service regulations.”
‘Shameful and intolerable’
One of the caned teachers, Ativus Leonard, 33, told the BBC he was now too ashamed to meet his pupils.
Mr Leonard said he had been kicked by a police officer to make him lie down before being beaten.
“He hit me everywhere – my legs, my chest, my arms, my hands. When it was over, I went to the hospital for treatment. I was given medicine but I still have a lot of pain in my chest,” he said.
The case comes at a time when parents and human-rights groups in Tanzania have been calling for a ban on flogging of schoolchildren throughout the country.
Before Mr Mnali was sacked, the Tanzania Teachers’ Union said it intended to sue him.
“The caning of our teachers is shameful. It’s intolerable and it’s time the teachers take action against Mr Mnali through the judiciary,” Kagera union chairman Dauda Bilikesi told the BBC.
Union officials say the caning happened amid an ongoing row between the union and the government.
Teachers complain that their salaries are often delayed and that they are a denied transfer allowance when they move to a new school.