Spare the rod, spoil the child: cleric

October 5, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, October 5 – Retired Mombasa Catholic Archbishop John Njenga has advocated for the reintroduction of caning in schools.

Archbishop Njenga said on Sunday that the ban on caning was to blame for the high levels of indiscipline in both primary and secondary schools.

“We are not talking of cruelty on children, we want a loving punishment. President Kibaki also supported the return of the cane, albeit with a caution that it should not inflict such harm on the students as to hamper learning,” said the 79-year-old cleric.

Parliament banned caning in schools through the Children’s Act, which came into force in 2001, following widespread criticism of the punishment from parents and human rights institutions who argued that Kenya was one of few countries in the world that legally allowed corporal punishment, considered as a human rights abuse.

Before the move, the Education Act’s section on regulations and school discipline provided for corporal punishment and stipulated how it was to be effected.

"Corporal punishment may be inflicted only in cases of continued or grave neglect of work, lying, bullying, gross insubordination, indecency, truancy or the like," said the old law.

It spelt out the mode of meting out the punishment and designated the head teacher or his/her appointee as the ones to effect the punishment.

The recent wave of school unrest which paralysed learning in more than 300 secondary schools has led to calls for the ban to be reversed, resulting in a debate over the issue.

The prospect of reintroducing caning has not been embraced universally particular by the civil societies who are strongly opposed to giving teachers a chance to abuse students through the re-introduction of caning.

Archbishop Njenga, who was the first African priest to be ordained in 1957, was speaking at the Holy Family Basilica where he launched his biography.

“This book will let the youth know how to live as Christians and about love and forgiveness for one another,” said the retired Archbishop.


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