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School CP - November 2001

Corpun file 8172 at


Daily Nation, Nairobi, 5 November 2001


After the Caning Ban, What?

Four months on, the ban on caning in schools continues to generate heated debate. Whether it is parents protesting against unorthodox punishment adopted to take the place of caning or teachers moaning about the lack of alternatives, the debate refuses to go away.

Few can expect the government to reverse its decision, based as it was on the sound principle that caning was inconsistent with the UN convention on the rights of the child, which it has ratified.

On the strength of this, indeed, the government brushed aside the strong tide of support for caning during submissions to the committee on school unrest.

But there are some who now say that the ban should have been accompanied with certain limitations, step by step .This, would have helped the teachers and students understand the concept and the need to do away with caning and make the learning process more friendly, they say.

Whether to re-introduce caning or not may be the question for many. But, for teachers without alternative guidelines for punishment, the question is, how best to maintain discipline.

This requires skills in conflict management. This means that among the first tasks to be accomplished by school authorities are those of assessing the prevailing situation and then deciding on the type of punishment that is most likely to succeed in changing behaviour.

In the prevailing circumstances, the training of teachers in the use of counselling, alternative discipline strategies and dealing with students in general is mandatory.

Rushing to comply with international standards might appear good. However, falling back to the local circumstances in compliance, may yield better results.

Bringing back the cane may solve the problem but for a short time. But ensuring that our schools do not slowly turn into lawless jungles that they are threatening to become, is the surest way out of the morass.

Is the government doing any of these?

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