[Human Rights Watch believes there are alternatives to caning and corporal punishment such as guidance and counselling or extra homework and light chores. “The problem in Kenya is that the teachers only have 4-5 hours on classroom discipline or classroom management techniques in their 2-3 years’ training course. For change to come, this element has to be included in their
syllabus,” Thonden said.]
I recently read the above snippet in a news article from 1999, sixteen years later and the discussion surrounding caning and corporal punishment in Africa still rages on. The current teachers were the students who were experiencing caning and they are meting out the same on their students, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” they say.
What struck me in the article is the inference that the teachers have not been equipped with the knowledge of viable alternatives to disciplining their students with a stick.
We discourage corporal punishment in the classroom here at Tamani, and just like other teachers, our teachers also feel it limits their authority. We have therefore made an effort to equip our teachers with modern classroom management techniques but the fact that these methods are often time consuming and not as effective is challenging.
I believe education is a beautiful thing but many students grow to hate the classroom because they associate learning with pain and fear. This doesn’t mean we don’t need discipline, without disciplined students, learning is almost impossible.
Question is, for students who live in a culture that teaches them to respect the one who wields the cane, can methods of enforcing discipline like detention and light chores work?
When we look at the example of Western countries where students are disrespectful to their teachers, is that the fate that awaits Africa if we ban corporal punishment from our classrooms? Is there a comfortable middle ground?