Exploring Discipline Alternatives in Kenyan Schools

Corporal punishment was banned in Kenyan schools in 2001. Despite this, the practice continues to be widespread. Many teachers, parents and caregivers remain unconvinced of the value of alternative methods of disciplining children and the legal system appears unwilling to deal with any teacher who violates the rights of children in this matter.

A participant in the essay competition receives his certificate

Belief in the value of beatings and other forms of punishment in the upbringing of children is deeply embedded in Kenyan society and teachers are often pressured by parents to ensure that it occurs. Failure to inflict corporal punishment is often interpreted as demonstrating a lack of concern for the child.

For these reasons the elimination of corporal punishment from schools is a difficult task.

In an effort to address this problem the Edmund Rice Justice and Peace group set out to find ways to engage some teachers and students in exploring alternative approaches to disciplining children in schools.

This was done by involving teachers and students from three different informal schools in Nairobi in an essay writing competition. The exercise aimed to explore the teachers and students understanding of corporal punishment – their knowledge of the law, their experiences and feelings about the practice of caning and to gather suggestions about some of the alternative ways that could be used to discipline children in schools that would not reduce their dignity or violate their rights.

The essays revealed that there is a need for further education of teachers, students and parents in the area of children’s rights and that whilst teachers and students were not happy about the use of caning they lacked knowledge about alternatives.

Nevertheless a number of valuable suggestions emerged that included counselling of students, explaining the consequences of behaviour to children, rewarding good behaviour, promoting a wider debate about the issue, using case studies to demonstrate the negative effect of practices such as caning, and encouraging teachers to share their best practice in regard to student discipline.

The Edmund Rice Justice and Peace group is committed to continue to work towards promoting the rights of children and the implementation of positive forms of discipline in Kenyan schools.

Thanks to Johnstone Shisanya, Executive Officer for the Edmund Rice Network in East Africa for supplying the information for this article.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

3 Responses to “Exploring Discipline Alternatives in Kenyan Schools”