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School CP - June 2002

East African Standard, Nairobi, 22 June 2002


Why Do Teachers Cane Learners?

By Cecilia Kamuyu

The use of corporal punishment as a method of disciplining learners was officially banned by the Government last year. This was done through legal notice number 56/2001.

Despite the protests from certain quarters, the Government has remained adamant; no caning in schools.

Unfortunately, some teachers have continued to administer the cane. Probably due to ignorance on the possible legal implications, or due to that age-old mentality - the discipline knows what is best for the learner.

The situation is especially bad in primary schools, more so those in rural areas. Such caning in some instance has had disastrous consequences - a far cry from the discipline it is meant to instil.

Why, in the first place, are learners caned?

The reasons vary from the laughable to the outright ridiculous:

- A learner may receive strokes of the cane because his school fees is unpaid.

- A cane may be administered because his uniform is not labelled with his names. Or it is tattered.

- A learner who comes to school without the required textbooks is also caned.

- Absenteeism, even due to a genuine problem at home.

- Getting to school late. This could be due to a mechanical breakdown of a vehicle or even the now "Normal" matatu strikes.

In all the situations above, the learner does not deserve the cane. In the first illustration, it is the parent who should be blamed. And still, you cannot punish anyone for being poor!

Now, a few questions beg. Does the teacher cane such a child out of malice or genuine concern?

Caning was meant for discipline. Who is being disciplined here? Do these read the newspapers, listen to the news bulletins or read circulars sent to schools? Because if they did they would know they can be prosecuted for contravening the Legal Notice.

Parents should also act and not just sit back passively. It is within your rights as a parent to pursue the issue if your child is caned in school. Visit the school and find out the reasons as to why your child was caned. This need not be a confrontation with teachers.

Politely but firmly make it known that you know your child's rights. This is specially so when a child is caned for something that he has no control over. Or when the caning he receives is bordering on physical assault.

Most of all, you as a parent need to understand that it is within your child's legal rights to seek legal redress if a teacher hurts him.

Once teachers realise that you, the parents, are informed, they will be very careful with the way they handle your child.

Parents, stand up. Speak out for your child. More so, if he is caned in school. Caning is illegal.

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