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School CP - April 2001
Daily Nation, Nairobi, 11 April 2001
Minister outlaws caning in schoolsBy David Aduda
Corporal punishment has been outlawed immediately in schools.
In a gazette notice dated March 13, Education Minister Kalonzo Musyoka has scrapped sections of the law that permitted corporal punishment.
He has also formalised the redesignation of the provincial education officers as provincial directors of education.
Their posts are equivalent to headquarters' senior deputy directors of education.
Although Government officials, including a former Head of Civil Service, Dr Richard Leakey, issued instructions outlawing corporal punishment, 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 headteacher or his/her appointee as the ones to inflict it.
All these four paragraphs have now been deleted.
In the new amendment, Mr Musyoka explains that the words "other than corporal punishment" must be inserted after every mention of the word "punishment" in the Act. That is intended to clarify any doubt about the nature of punishment to meted out on delinquent students.
However, the notice does not spell out penalties that teachers found meting out corporal punishment will face.
Kenya has been widely criticised as one of the few countries in the world that legally allow corporal punishment.
At the world conference on education for all in Dakar last year, Kenya was cited as having institutionalised violence and promoted child abuse by including corporal punishment in its statutes.
But the debate on corporal punishment has continued since 1996, when the then Education Director, Mr Elias Njoka, warned teachers against implementing it.
Despite the fact that corporal punishment is offensive and violent, a section of teachers argue that there are cases where caning is the ultimate solution to indiscipline.
To effect the gazette notice, the ministry will have to issue a circular to schools and other learning institutions indicating the change in the Education Act.
Daily Nation, Nairobi, 16 April 2001
Discipline In School: Govt Must Go Further
While the Government ban on corporal punishment in schools last week may bring an end to a long drawn-out controversy in the education sector, it still leaves many questions answered. The move by Education Minister Kalonzo Musyoka through a Kenya Gazette notice was not surprising as senior Government officials, including President Moi, are on record disapproving of the cane thereby signalling its ban.
Corporal punishment has been blatantly abused by some teachers, leading to serious injuries and sometimes even the death of pupils.
This has happened despite the fact that the Education Act (prior to the amendment) clearly spelt out appropriate guidelines on the administration of the cane. The emphasis was on moderation, caution and record keeping of instances in which it was applied.
More than anything else, the widespread abuse of the legal structures set up in the Act inspired the move to outlaw caning.
It is one thing to prohibit something, however, and quite another to ensure it really is not done.
The Ministry of Education is notorious for issuing directives that are then ignored with impunity. Its reputation for effective follow-ups has been more than wanting. The guidelines on schools fees structures, for example, have been ignored as have bans on coaching and forced repetition.
The inspectorate arm of the ministry has been moribund for many years, explaining why the cane has been so misused despite clear specifications in the Act. Now that a ban has been issued, will the same department be capable of ensuring its implemented?
Besides, the minister did not spell out the alternatives to caning. Don't we run the danger of allowing our children the leeway to break rules with abandon? Counselling, though effective in the long run, does not always work. Menial chores as a mode of punishment are time wasting and are not always effective. So, where do we go from here?
The minister must issue a circular to schools countrywide explaining the new directive and suggest alternative forms of discipline.
In recent years, indiscipline among students has taken the form of outright violence where students have clobbered their teachers to death, set their colleagues on fire and damaged property worth colossal amounts of money. This is in addition to abuse of alcohol, drugs and other harmful substances.
It is not enough to outlaw caning in schools. The Government must go further and spell out ways of ensuring schools do not become the lawless jungles they are threatening to become.
Copyright © 2001 The Nation.
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