Corporal punishment is not always the key to discipline and good performance

Photo: Courtesy
Utumishi Academy

How many people were caned in school and never changed? There was no improvement in grades or discipline. Yes, sparing the rod is spoiling the child but the rod is not always the way to put a student back on the right track. Sometimes it requires some compassion and understanding.

The Utumishi Academy video that went viral has attracted mixed reactions from Kenyans on social media, with some people supporting corporal punishment while others do not.

Back in the days, there was a primary school in Siaya where primary school children were caned as if they were cows. After every exam, there was a ‘kamukunji’, a dreaded Friday afternoon of caning. It did not matter whether a pupil passed the test or not. Some pupils were beaten for not helping others pass exams, as if they went to school to study for others.

Canes would be ferried in the school van. There was a Kiswahili teacher whose lessons never missed corporal punishment. He would even use pipes to beat children on the back of their feet. It was hell. Neighbours called the school a prison because of the things young girls would go through.

Some children survived the torture, some transferred to other schools while others would fake illness during ‘kamukunji’ just to escape the wrath of the teachers.

The following day would be Saturday and another teacher comes in to cane the same students who were beaten like stray dogs the day before. Sitting on a desk was painful. Pupils would place books or sweaters on seats before sitting. Sometimes, the nerves would simply give up and go numb. You could not feel anything.

Have you ever wondered why some pupils who join form one with great marks (350 and above) never make it to the top performers list in high school? Some of them hold positions at the bottom of the class in consecutive tests.

What corporal punishment does to learners

No student ever wants to be caned. It is a painful experience especially for small mistakes.

In a school where caning is the norm, students are disciplined because of the cane. Some of them perform well out of fear. They study because they know failure means corporal punishment. They cram content in textbooks without understanding what they read.

After finishing national exams, they get out with almost nothing in their heads because they were studying under pressure to pass examinations. They then proceed to high school.

Most secondary schools do not engage in corporal punishment. A pupil passed exams because of fear of the cane. He goes to high school and loses his grip in studies. There is no one to cane or threaten him. He can choose to study or not. That is how some students with great marks in K.C.P.E end up failing in high school.

It is important to instill discipline in a child. He needs to get good grades. However, corporal punishment is not the only way to correct a child or make him perform well.

It is high time teachers understood that students are people with physical and psychological aspects.

Do not find a student in the wrong and result to caning as the only correctional method. There is a lot to do to help misbehaving pupils or those not performing as well as they should.

Parents should not abandon their roles in their children’s lives and expect teachers to ‘straighten’ them. Before complaining about caning, ask yourself whether your child deserved it or not.

See also: Versities to end school based programme for PHD students


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