A teachers’ union has opposed plans to re-introduce corporal punishment in schools.
Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary General Akello Misori dismissed the proposals made by National Assembly Deputy Minority Whip Chris Wamalwa as ‘outrageous and retrogressive’, adding that it would not resolve cases of school unrest.
“Students should not be brutalised. Reintroducing corporal punishment will make some teachers to brutalise students. This will radicalise them even more,” said Misori.
Wamalwa, who is also the Kiminini MP, ignited debate when he said that legislators were considering passing a Bill that would legalise caning in schools as a disciplinary measure, to address cases of aggrieved students destroying school property.
There has been a spate of school fires this term with more than two dozen secondary schools in Nyanza shut and the students sent home.
The unrest has continued unabated despite the efforts of police to step up security as well as arrest suspects and arraign them in court.
Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo also voiced support for the reintroduction of caning. He said it was high time the Children’s Act, enacted in 2001 outlawing corporal punishment, was repealed to grant teachers the authority to physically discipline their students.
“We want teachers to be given room to manage the students by caning them when they become unruly in schools,” said Odhiambo, adding that the students had ‘grown horns’ and were in danger of sinking deeper into deviant practices.
But Misori accused the MPs of attempting to drag education sector reforms back to the dark days.
“Even capital punishment in the country has been outlawed. How do you bring back draconian ideas? The MPs have run short of ideas,” he said.
The Kuppet official said it would be more beneficial if schools carried out an ‘integrated disciplinary approach’ to managing students.
This, Misori said, involved receiving guidance and counselling from their parents, teachers, church leaders and security personnel that would highlight their wayward behavior and lead them back to the straight and narrow path.
Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary General Wilson Sossion also opposed the proposals to reintroduce the cane, saying that even if other stakeholders successfully lobbied for its return, it would not be administered by teachers.