Caning in schools – I got mail

image from NMG

I got a few emails in my box regarding the caning in schools from the DN2 cover story on Wednesday last week. I thought I should not waste the efforts of the writers though I do not post their names to avoid any embarrassments.


Comment One


Dear Tabitha,

I have just read your article in today’s Daily Nation newspaper on corporal punishment in schools.

One of my nieces is one of the “afflicted” by this corporal punishment in her schooling life. I say afflicted because the child has scars, both physical and emotional,  to show for the said discipline.  We had to change schools but I am afraid the damage is already done as the “discipline” happened during her formative years. she is now in class 7.

Her former school, Imperial Academy in Kisii, practices the harshest form of corporal punishment that does not even drive the point home to the child.  The straw that broke the camel’s back is when her head teacher beat her up for being unwell.  The child was attended to in a hospital, was issued a doctors letter and drugs.  Despite her poor health she still went to school the day after receiving treatment, of course with the doctor’s letter and drugs. The head teacher went ballistic on her and beat her up for being a liar, and the drugs, he said, were a month old.

Beating up a child because she is unwell…

i will let that sink in for a moment as i try to dry my tears.

Emotional abuse – she experienced a lot of this from her teachers.  Teachers would call her Mummy’s baby because her mother dropped her off to school every morning.  Some even clearly had vendetta against her because her mother would often stand up for her child whenever she was punished for something trivial.  as soon as the mother left school, they would turn on my niece once more, with taunts that she would not amount to much in life, not with mummy solving all her problems.  That child has never known the joys of childhood friendships nurtured in school, because she is afraid of perhaps being involved in something that will elicit wrath from the teachers, so she mostly keeps to herself.


How is this child expected to perform in school?  Her grades naturally deteriorated over time, she became recluse, lost self confidence and self esteem, does not see any good in herself and has given up on life at age 13.  She does not see any bright side in life and has often talked of regretting why she was born.  At age 13.   That is what her teachers, who are trained to educate, nurture and guide her, have done to her. She detested that school and did everything to avoid doing exams, because if she failed, it meant more punishment, more taunts, more affirmation that she is indeed good for nothing.
My niece is not an unruly child, the reasons for being beaten up are not because she was naughty or she did something against school rules, instead it is because she was probably 10 minutes late to class, or is unwell and misses a couple of days in school, did not give a correct answer in class.  It became scary going to school and the child was under so much pressure and stress that she developed this negativity about school.

I can assure you, she is not alone in this country undergoing this abuse called corporal punishment.  I wish you had a way of talking to every student in all the schools in the country, especially in the rural areas, you would lose your mind due to the magnitude of it all.
My take on those teachers, they give the teaching profession a bad name.  I remember ALL my teachers with fondness, for they were super patient, and they TAUGHT. They taught about discipline and life and hardships that this life presented if you did not get an education. They inspired dreams of the future.    We were disciplined through being talked to, being guided and more so by those teachers actually listening to our issues.  By the time you got to that caning stage you would have done something really wrong and your parent(s) would be present for that corporal punishment.  The embarrassment of being caned in front of your parents or by your parents in front of a teacher would make you think twice about going against any school rules.

i doubt my niece can speak well of any of her former teachers or school for that matter.

My main concern however is the lack of communication between parents and teachers.  These two groups need to work as a tag team to bring up this child.  on matters disciplinary, i believe the school should be mandated to involve the parents.  In my niece’s case, the teachers never raised their concerns about my niece’s performance, their concern was etched on her bottom weekly. Reason, she failed in this paper, doesn’t show commitment.  Mr / Madam Teacher, find out WHY she is not doing well.  could there be a problem on the homefront? if so how can you help? doesn’t she understand your teaching or are your own teaching skills wanting?  Do a 360 degree analysis of yourself before you beat a child into oblivion!

Where is the ministry of education on this enforcement of the law?  why has it not provided for other forms of punishment in schools, since 2001? what solutions is the ministry giving teachers because discipline must be instilled in schools and without proper guidelines they whole education system is a failure if learners cannot be controlled.  i blame the ministry partly for my niece’s woes too. Further, where does one go to report cases of abuse in schools? How can one enforce children’s rights?  civil education to parents and guardians is lacking on such matters.  I have never heard of any satisfactory resolutions to cases where children actually die from being beaten in schools by teachers, other than that teacher being transferred, to go commit another murder elsewhere.

I apologize for the lengthy venting, but i hope my story will bring to light what really happens in schools.



Comment two


Dear Tabitha,

I am reading your article in the Daily Nation on corporal punishment. I feel i can contribute something to it:

It is sad how discipline became a problem after the cane was banned. However, I can attest that corporal punishment is usually a two edged sword. It can help, and it can also destroy.

Some teachers, even parents and other caregivers may injure or even kill a helpless child in the name of instilling discipline physically.

But to make all teachers to counsel pupils is also a waste of time. Counselling is a relationship that must be built over time.Not all adults have the ability to be counsellors.

Besides, there are issues you cant counsel about e.g Would you sit a child down and explain him/her to stop spilling food, or hitting others or just being silly?

Some acts of mischief can only be stemmed with consistent discipline which also reminds them of their silliness.

you may counsel on issues of sexuality and other social problems;but again, do teachers have that time? they are already too burdened with syllabi, and drilling kids to pass.

Also, are pupils always co-operative when they are being corrected? not really. Infact, they may fight the corrective procedure at first.

Our very culture does not encourage honesty, or being frank with our weaknesses. We watch as our leaders steal, kill, lie, do all manner of sin and yet we vote them.What doe that tell the kids? they can do a wrong and get away with it.

Right from our homes, the cane is used because it gives instant attention to what is being said by our parent/caregiver. The cane does not give the child the chance to say ‘ I will think about it’ thus it is abit hated and feared.

Unless we change our approach right from homes, and insist on truth, honesty, openness, then we are not gaining much. Unless a child learns to hate lies, they will use them whenever and wherever. The lie is the cause of many problems, including indiscipline.

Good luck to those championing different ways of doing things.






I got this comment that me think of the saying that ‘every market has its mad man’ – and this one clearly has a wild imagination regarding the female body. Ok, it does not add to the debate but someone did bother to write it and send it to me……



Dear Tabitha,

I am sorry to say this but i have to, the  fear is that  the clitoris may drag backwards and be injured by cane.



I felt for the author of the first comment and we communicated a bit about it. The second comment reminded me of the times when I am talking to my son and have to say ‘Am I talking to myself?’ because clearly the boat was missed. As for the third comment – no comment.