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School CP - April 2006

Corpun file 17566


Daily Nation, Nairobi, 5 April 2006

Why Teacher Backs Caning in Schools

By Bob Odalo

A secondary school teacher, who prides himself as a protector of children's rights, wants the cane reintroduced in schools.

Mr Kasolya with his cane
Mr Kasolya, who has gone to court seeking to have caning reintroduced in schools. Photos Bob Odalo and File

He has gone to court seeking to have the caning ban which was slapped in 2001, and which he blames for increasing cases of indiscipline in schools, revoked.

The case, filed last week at Machakos law courts, has sparked interesting debate in FM radio stations, work places and schools.

While most teachers would love to get hold of the cane without looking over their shoulders or fearing legal action, students and pupils are waiting to see how the case will proceed with bated breath.

Machakos District Officer Albert Mwilitsa describes 40-year-old Nicholas Kaloki Kasolya, "a respected opinion leader in his own right."

Cheap publicity

Many have dismissed Mr Kasolya as a man after cheap publicity, but unknown to them he has lived half his life championing the rights of the child.

"I have no ill intentions in calling for the discipline of the child through caning, if a vote was to be cast today to elect a person who cares for the child I think I would feature among the top," he said.

In Mutonguni village in Kitui district, where he was born, he has gained a reputation for being a tough disciplinarian and has been known to go round night clubs in Kitui and Machakos flushing out under age boys and girls having fun.

"I got interested in the rights of a child sometimes back when I came a cross an incident involving a five-year-old child who had been raped. I saw parents of the child negotiate over payment with the attacker. Believe me the matter was laid to rest. The victim was not part of the negotiation yet her parents received money on her behalf. This incident annoyed me so much and that was how I started my crusade to protect the rights of the child," Mr Kasolya says.

Responsible citizens

He says he has completed a volunteer children's officer course on how to protect the rights of the child and has attended many seminars on children's rights.

In court documents, Mr Kasolya introduces himself as a secondary school teacher and a parent of three children, whom he says have a right to be brought up into responsible citizens.

Represented by lawyer Daniel Mutinda, a former Cabinet minister in Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's Government, Mr Kasolya says his decision to go to court was inspired by increasing cases of indiscipline in schools since the ban was effected because teachers had been stripped of authority to enforce order in learning institutions.

He bases his argument on section 127(1) of the Children's Act, which states that anybody who assaults a child is guilty of a felony punishable by law.

But in seeking the re-introduction of the cane, he quotes sub-section five of the same law, which states that nothing takes away the right of a parent, guardian or custodian of a child to punish a child.

As the case comes up for hearing this week, Mr Kasolya wants to know what the drafters of the law envisaged would rightfully constitute reasonable punishment and if one or two strokes of the cane - properly administered and regulated - would constitute reasonable penance.

"Did the Education minister not overreach himself when he banned the use of the cane in public schools having considered extraneous factors like the bad publicity it received every time a teacher hurt a child in the caning process?" he asks.

He wants to know if the consideration was lawful given that Section (3) of the Children's Act states that all decisions made by a public body shall be aimed at securing the best interests of the child.

"Should the Kenyan public watch helplessly as the discipline of their children deteriorates due to a simple administrative order by the education ministry,?" he asks and argues that counselling which the education ministry suggested as an alternative to caning was sometimes ineffective.

"The effect of the cane on a wayward child is felt immediately, while counselling takes a long process. Caning is measurable, highly professional and the assumption of the ministry that every teacher can double up as a counsellor is fallacious," he argues.

He says his long teaching experience had shown that the ministry was unable to provide all public schools with qualified counsellors.

"The child can be caned once or twice by the head teacher or his deputy without causing any harm," he says, and adds that the part of the body to be caned should be clearly specified in administrative regulations.

"The child can be caned in the presence of a witness, say a parent or guardian, and the size of the cane clearly specified, the thinner the cane the better."

Girls should be caned only by female teachers in the presence of a female witness, he says, adding: "A child caned twice may be dealt with under existing laws by declaring them disobedient and bringing them before a children's court for judicial orders."

Mr Kasolya says caning should not be done publicly and anybody who flouts the rules should be dealt with under the Children's Act.

He says the introduction of free compulsory learning contributed to massive enrolment and therefore indiscipline in schools.

"The ratio of teacher to pupils has gone down and the end result is that the teacher is today unable to cope with the burden leave alone spare time to counsel the child."

He says many indisciplined children who regularly abused drugs joined the school system with the free education, complicating matters for the teachers.

Mr Kaloki was born in 1965 in Kitui Central and was trained as a teacher at Kenyatta University. He is married to Agnes

While he is not interested in politics, his sights are set on running for an elective post in the teachers' unions.

Copyright 2006 The Nation. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 17564


Daily Nation, Nairobi, 5 April 2006

Ban Followed Pressure From Parents And Rights Lobbies

By Samuel Siringi

The 2001 ban on caning in schools followed widespread criticism of the punishment from parents and human rights institutions.

They argued that Kenya was one of few countries in the world that legally allowed corporal punishment, considered as a human rights abuse.

The country was accused of institutionalising violence and promoting child abuse by including corporal punishment in its statutes.

The debate had gone on since 1996, when former Education director Elias Njoka warned teachers against caning students. But they in turn argued that there were cases where caning was the ultimate solution in instilling discipline.

Some have, since the ban, argued that caning should be re-introduced but restricted to the head teacher alone.

In their 2001 annual conference in Eldoret, head teachers said they were unsure of alternative punishment methods.

The cane was outlawed by then Education minister Kalonzo Musyoka on March 13, 2001, in a gazette notice.

Earlier, government officials, including former Head of Service Richard Leakey had issued directives banning corporal punishment, but they had not given their declarations legal backing.

Until Mr Musyoka's move, the Education Act's section on regulations and school discipline provided for corporal punishment and stipulated how it was to be effected.

It 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."

It spelt out the mode of meting out the punishment and designated the head teacher or his/her appointee as the ones to effect the punishment. The provisions were all deleted by Mr Musyoka.

In his order, Mr Musyoka explained that words "other than corporal punishment" must be inserted after every mention of the word punishment in the Act.

However, the amendment did not spell out the punishment that teachers found meting out corporal punishment would face.

Former Starehe Director Geoffrey Griffin on several occasions urged the Government to rethink the ban.

He argued that corporal punishment should be used occasionally in boarding schools where teachers also doubled as parents.

"As parents, you know there are occasions where a smack will do wonders for your children," Dr Griffin, who died last year, once said.

Another scholar who argued against outlawing caning was former Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor George Eshiwani.

Copyright 2006 The Nation. All rights reserved.

blob Follow-up: 3 June 2006 - To cane or not to cane (more on Mr Kaloki and his campaign)

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