KENYA--Minister outlaws caning in schools
Nation News Limited, David Aduda, April 11, 2001

Corporal punishment has been outlawed immediately in schools.

In a gazette notice dated March 13, Education Minister Kalonzo Musyoka has scrapped sections of the law that permitted corporal punishment.

He has also formalised the redesignation of the provincial education officers as provincial directors of education.

Their posts are equivalent to headquarters' senior deputy directors of education.

Although Government officials, including a former Head of Civil Service, Dr Richard Leakey, issued instructions outlawing corporal punishment, these did not have legal backing.

Under the Education Act, a section on regulations and school discipline provided for corporal punishment and stipulated how it was to be effected.

Paragraph 11 read: "Corporal punishment may be inflicted only in cases of continued or grave neglect of work, lying, bullying, gross insubordination, indecency, truancy or the like."

Sections 12,13 and 14 spelt out the mode of meting out the punishment and designated the headteacher or his/her appointee as the ones to inflict it.

All these four paragraphs have now been deleted.

In the new amendment, Mr Musyoka explains that the words "other than corporal punishment" must be inserted after every mention of the word "punishment" in the Act. That is intended to clarify any doubt about the nature of punishment to meted out on delinquent students.

However, the notice does not spell out penalties that teachers found meting out corporal punishment will face.

Kenya has been widely criticised as one of the few countries in the world that legally allow corporal punishment.

At the world conference on education for all in Dakar last year, Kenya was cited as having institutionalised violence and promoted child abuse by including corporal punishment in its statutes.

But the debate on corporal punishment has continued since 1996, when the then Education Director, Mr Elias Njoka, warned teachers against implementing it.

Despite the fact that corporal punishment is offensive and violent, a section of teachers argue that there are cases where caning is the ultimate solution to indiscipline.

To effect the gazette notice, the ministry will have to issue a circular to schools and other learning institutions indicating the change in the Education Act.

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