Should corporal punishment still be thriving in our schools?

By Jane Beatrice Obila

Cases of learners being caned resulting in death and horrific injuries have been reported in the country. The recent one is that of a Riang’ombe Adventist Boarding School pupil who was caned 107 times and not forgetting a similar case that led to death in Kwale county three years ago amongst others.

These cruel degrading and inhuman acts of corporal punishment which are prohibited by Kenyan law are unfortunate and should not be entertained. Article 29 of the Constitution stipulates that every person has the right to freedom and security, which includes the right not to be subjected to corporal punishment or treated or punished in a cruel and inhuman manner. However, it is sad that some teachers do not obey this and that is the reason such ordeals reoccur.

Some teachers might think that brutal caning is what will make learners respect, follow and understand what they are teaching which is not true. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), such punishment affects the children’s behavioral patterns over time and ultimately leads to poor educational outcomes as they affect a person’s cognitive health.

It is sad that in many cases, after the incident has happened, teachers normally try to conceal it from members of the public because they know the consequences of the action. Can we term these kinds of acts as accidents that should be forgiven? No way, the barbaric behaviors must be dealt with as the law states.

When I was young, I used to hear people saying that some teachers teaching in their local schools and are enemies or have a problem with the learner’s parent can brutally punish the learner but as I grow up I come to realize that the statement is partially false as most of these cases are even reported in boarding schools where teachers and learners do not know the background each other well. What can be the problem then? Can it be that some tutors are not well trained and do not follow what the Teacher’s Code of Conduct entails?

A child should indeed be disciplined when he/she has made a mistake even as the Holy book encourages. However, it should not be done in a manner intended to harm the learner. According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the positive discipline Programme helps school gains a good reputation with better performance.

Parents have entrusted teachers with their children and such cases being reported are heart-wrenching. This is the place I call upon the Ministry of Education and the investigatory branch, the Teacher’s Service Commission which has the power to suspend, transfer, and fire teachers to investigate such cases thoroughly so that the perpetrators do not go scot-free as this will act as an example to others to deter them from doing such degrading acts.

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