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School CP - April 2008
Daily Nation, Nairobi, 3 April 2008
To cane students or not? Teachers and parents differ
By Walker Mwandoto
A proposal by parents that they be allowed to cane their children to enhance discipline at a school in Kilifi has revived debate on corporal punishment in schools.
Although the management of King Solomon High School does not approve the reintroduction of corporal punishment, parents introduced the issue during a meeting with teachers at the school recently.
The parents made the proposal after teachers complained of indiscipline among students. According to the teachers, many of the students at the school were abusing drugs and some had become addicts, yet the teachers could not punish them.
But Kilifi district education officer Dickson ole Keis said it would be illegal for parents to re-introduce corporal punishment in any school after the Government outlawed it through the Children's Act.
"The Government banned caning of students in either private or public schools and parents in any learning institution cannot overrule that order," he said.
The education official said corporal punishment amounted to child abuse and went against the Children's Act.
Mr Rashid Maghanga, one of the parents who supports corporal punishment, said parents had a big role to play in instilling discipline in and out of school if students are to perform well in national examinations.
"The decision to spare the rod lies with the parents," said Mr Maghanga, a primary school teacher.
According to him, one of the consequences of not caning children is that teachers are reluctant to tackle drug abuse among their pupils.
"This has made many students to get involved in vices because they know their teachers cannot do anything," he said.
But if corporal punishment is re-introduced in schools, he added, parents should do the caning.
Abandon bad behaviour
However, a German living Kilifi Town, Mr Abdul Malik, whose child is a student at King Solomon High School was opposed to corporal punishment.
"Children need not to be caned but instead should be counselled and given guidance to abandon bad behaviour. Caning does not correct an indisciplined child," he said.
Mr Malik said the school administration should employ a teacher who will guide and counsel students to help mould them into disciplined and responsible citizens.
Another parent, Mr Allan Mtana, said that indiscipline in local schools was rife because corporal punishment had been outlawed.
"Parents should be allowed to instill discipline in their own children who are in school by canning them, otherwise the runaway indiscipline we are experiencing in most schools will continue," he said.
Although parents supported the call to punish students, the school director, Mr Daniel Katana, however said that the school had not sanctioned the proposal as it was in conflict with existing laws.
Teachers at the school had said that students were involved in drug abuse and trafficking. Others had turned themselves into tour guides but were also engaging in sex tourism. Parents felt that caning could reduced such cases.
But the Kilifi area manager for Plan International, Mrs Jacqueline Mghoi Jumbe, described corporal punishment as a form of child abuse.
"Child abuse can take different forms in violating the children's right: It involve physical, psychological and emotional abuses. All these affect the child," she said.
According to her, corporal punishment instills fear in children and does not correct the actual mistake done by the child as the child is not given a chance to defend his or her actions.
"Dialogue is the best approach to make the students understand their mistakes as corporal punishment will not bring any change in them but it will instead turn them into hardcores," she said.
According to her, research had shown that many teachers caning students leave them uncorrected yet caning creates bad blood between students and teachers.
The Plan International manager says her organisation will introduce a project to encourage learning without fear. The project will involve students who will be talking to their "bad" colleagues with the aim to guiding and counselling them to become "good" students.
"The project, to be implemented under the ‘Child Protection Programme' will involve teachers, education officials, parents and other players in the education sector in the district," she said.
And Mr Mwalimu Rassi, the Knut Kilifi branch executive secretary, said the union abides by a code of regulations which prohibits caning. It also respects the Education and Human Rights Acts in the country.
"All organisations including the teachers' union should respect human rights and its members should respect the rights of the children in school. They should know that corporal punishment is a crime and can land one in prison," he cautioned.
Mr Rassi said that caning — whether by a parent or a teacher — amounted to violations of human rights and child abuse under the Children's Act.
He also warned that the union would not defend any teacher who commits such a crime.
The Knut boss advised school administrators to introduce counselling and guiding in their schools and use the relevant government agencies to curb indiscipline.
And Mrs Sureya Roble Hersi, the Coast provincial chairlady of Maendeleo Ya Wanawake organisation, criticised parents calling for the re-introduction of corporal punishment. According to her, this would violate the Children's and Human Rights Acts.
Daily Nation, Nairobi, 3 April 2008
Forget about bringing back the rod, says lobby group
By Oliver Mathenge
The controversial issue of caning in schools is back in the limelight barely seven years after the Children's Act banned caning in schools.
It would appear that indiscipline has been on the rise after the law made it mandatory for teachers and parents "to spare the rod".
The Kenya National Association of Parents secretary-general, Mr Musau Ndunda, said parents had failed in performing their roles resulting in poor discipline among children. According to him, the responsibilities shouldered by parents should not be transferred to teachers.
He said it was wrong for parents to advocate for the return of corporal punishment yet most of them supported its ban in the late 1990s.
"What the parents want to do is to arbitrarily transfer their responsibility of ensuring their children are disciplined to the teachers," Mr Ndunda said.
He said the parents' association was against the return of caning in schools since the teachers' responsibility was to teach, not handle disciplinary cases. He was also categorical that no school should be forced by parents to move back to the era of caning. According to him, caning was unwarranted in the modern society.
"Parent have in the past used teachers to cause terror among students, something that should not be allowed under any means," said Mr Ndunda.
He also noted that parents and not schools were to blame for indiscipline in schools. According to him, cases of indiscipline increase in the second term soon after the April holidays. Though in recent years these cases have been blamed on lack of caning, other analysts have said that the problem starts at home.
The debate is been revived in April, the month in which Kenya marks the "No Kiboko Day", which is part of the international No-Hitting Day celebrations held every year. Last year's event, which is aimed at sensitising the public on better ways of instilling discipline in students, was held on April 11.
Corporal punishment in Kenyan schools was banned through a Kenya Gazette notice on March 13, 2001 by the then Education minister, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, now the Vice-President.
Through the Gazette notice, the Government scrapped sections of the law that permitted corporal punishment. Although Government officials, including a former head of Civil Service, Dr Richard Leakey, had issued instructions outlawing corporal punishment earlier, these did not have legal backing.
Under the Education Act, a section on regulations and school discipline provided for corporal punishment and stipulated how it was to be effected.
Paragraph 11 read: "Corporal punishment may be inflicted only in cases of continued or grave neglect of work, lying, bullying, gross insubordination, indecency, truancy or the like."
Sections 12, 13 and 14 spelt out the mode of meting out the punishment and designated the head teacher or his/her appointee as the ones to inflict it. All the four paragraphs were deleted in the amendment.
By the time of the amendment, Kenya had been widely criticised as one of the few countries in the world that legally allowed corporal punishment.
At a world conference on education for all in Dakar in 2000, Kenya had been cited as having institutionalised violence and promoting child abuse by including corporal punishment in its statutes.
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