The outlawing of corporal punishment in schools was not impulsive. It followed deliberations and case studies that determined it was institutionalised violence against children. Indeed, at the World Education Conference in Dakar, Senegal, in 2000, Kenya was cited for promoting child abuse. Thereafter, then Education Minister Kalonzo Musyoka outlawed corporal punishment.
Before then, teachers had abused the concept of punishment so much that most of it ended up causing grievous injuries to students, and in some cases, death.
Although cases of indiscipline in schools have been on the rise in recent years as seen in the frequent torching of dormitories and classrooms, abuse of drugs and even violence against teachers, it would be injudicious to blame that on lack of corporal punishment. As such, those calling for the return of corporal punishment in schools must first interrogate the real causes of indiscipline.
The argument by Kimilili MP Chris Wamalwa that caning stopped students from burning schools or being undisciplined in his day holds no water. Needless to say, the circumstances were very different.
As much as we cannot negate constitutional stipulations on individual rights and freedoms, there is no evidence that caning deters unrest in school.
Corporal punishment, despite it being touted, even at home, rarely makes children obedient or diligent. Research has shown that talking to them and motivating them to work hard while dissuading them from picking up bad habits works better.
Discipline begins at home hence the role of parenting cannot be overlooked.
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