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School CP - August 2006

Corpun file 18155

The New Vision, Kampala, 13 August 2006

Caning Banned in Schools

By Carol Natukunda

THE ministry of education has banned corporal punishments in schools and colleges, citing physical torture and injury on students.

In a three-page circular dated August 7 2006, the director of education, Dr. John Mbabazi, said the use of the cane or any other form of punishment that could cause injury must stop with immediate effect.

"Corporal punishments for students in schools and colleges must stop forthwith. This applies also to any other form of punishment or act that may cause injury, damage, defilement of disfigurement to the human body. The use of the cane as a disciplining measure shall not be permitted in schools and colleges, as well as nursery schools and infant classes," Mbabazi said in a circular addressed to all heads of primary and secondary schools, post-primary and tertiary institutions, colleges and polytechnics.

Last week, The New Vision reported that five students of Mandela Comprehensive SSS in Arua had been hospitalised after being severely caned by a group of teachers.

Mbabazi said although corporal punishment is prescribed in the Penal Code of Uganda laws and is usually accompanied by hard labour, the use of the cane in educational institutions is not equally governed by any law.

Mbabazi said the traditional values derived from the use of corporal punishments as a disciplining measure on children had been eroded through indiscriminate use of the cane.

"In practice, the use of the cane has deteriorated into random and irresponsible beating of students by the teachers and fellow students. Even the use of bare hands has at times inflicted a disability of one form or the other on the victims," he said.

Mbabazi directed schools to review their respective rules and introduce "more professional and acceptable sanctions to replace manual labour and caning."

"The new rules should be approved by the schools' or colleges' boards of governors or governing councils," he said.

Mbabazi said teachers needed to record any disciplinary action in a punishments book, indicating the type of offence, type of punishment, authorisation and the particulars of the person administering the punishment so that a regular system of records is maintained.

"Where these guidelines are ignored, or abused, the culprits will be held criminally responsible for their actions. They will have to face the laws including the teacher's Code of Conduct.

"The ultimate goal of the managers of the teaching and learning process is to know and understand the needs of the youth, and to mould them into useful citizens," he said.

The circular was copied to the Prime Minister, MPs, Cabinet, permanent secretaries, resident district commissioners and LC5 chairpersons.

It was also copied to chief administrative officers, town clerks, district education officers, municipal education officers, inspectorates, school management committees, local council education committees, parents and teachers associations.

Copyright © 2006 New Vision. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 18293

The New Vision, Kampala, 31 August 2006

Beating children can be good sometimes

I read with interest Dipak Naker’s article “What’s wrong with beating children?” (New Vision, August 9, 2006). Much as we all deplore such wanton brutality and abuse of authority, I believe there is a place for corporal punishment in our homes and in the education system.

Children have an infinite capacity for mischief and unless some rigorous discipline is consistently applied over a long time the children concerned will most likely turn out to be undisciplined, lazy and morally reprehensible adults who will only bring sorrow and grief to their parents and to society at large. When all modes of punishments are considered, corporal punishment, judicially and lovingly administered, is the best antidote for all forms of perverse conduct that children may run into. Of course the punishment should not be excessive as to permanently impair the child. The book of Proverbs in the Bible, gives us this advice: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child but a rod of correction will drive it far from him.”

Research findings stating that corporal punishment is detrimental to the emotional, mental and physical health of the child are not the gospel truth.

Many people out there can attest that they would not have been the successful and responsible citizens they currently are were it not for the liberal application of the cane by their parents or teachers. There are also many examples of pampered individuals who ended up as failures and social misfits. Research carried out on children has revealed that the majority of children prefer parents or teachers who set them clear boundaries beyond which they should not stray, to softies who let them get away with any mischief or gave them a slap on the wrist even for very serious cases of indiscipline.

Of course like everything else corporal punishment can be abused and lead to the impairment of the child both physically and otherwise. But that should in no way lead to the outright banning of it. Other forms of punishment may have their place but I believe that corporal punishment should be upheld in schools and in homes, within limits, as the most salutary form of corrective action.

What Naker described in his article was not the disciplining but the abuse of children, which is a different story altogether. As for the last question “…..I wonder what you, the reader, might have been had you not been beaten and humiliated as a child?” Quite frankly, I think I would be in the rebel ranks of the LRA or in Luzira Prison had it not been for the hot strokes that my dad liberally applied to my bottom.

The writer [name not given in online version - C.F.] is a researcher

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