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A Standard Five pupil washing utensils for teachers at school. There are reports of severe caning in the school with some pupils said to have been hospitalised over the same. Photo/James Wakahiu

School in Thika where corporal punishment is a way of life

By James Wakahiu.

Repeated incidents of corporal punishment at a Thika primary school have parents worried about their children’s safety in the institution.
Parents say scenes of mass corporal punishment and obvious acts of impunity among a section of the teaching staff at the school in Juja Sub-County have been going on for a while now.
A parent who didn’t want to be identified disclosed some very chilling information about the goings on in the school, adding that parents and pupils have remained helpless in their pursuit for remedy due to the Head teacher’s “connections” with higher authorities.
We managed to obtain a graphic video of one of the said teachers brutally caning little girls on their backs inside the staffroom.
In another audio clip, some teachers can be heard administering the same to a pupil who by trying to block the canes from further inflicting the pain is described as ‘kichwa ngumu’ (tough headed) and thus ‘ajiongezea viboko’ (calling for more punishment).
According to our source, this has been the order of the day, with three teachers said to be the most notorious in administering corporal punishment to pupils, some as young as 10 years.
Pupils we talked to narrated how four teachers, who included the Head teacher usually beat them.
They alleged that one of these teachers had the habit of canning them and later forcing them to crawl on their buttocks from the staffroom to their classrooms without considering the physical conditions especially of the girls.
“We are forced to crawl on our buttocks as you sing ‘Tembea na Yesu’ (walk with Jesus) without considering if you are in your periods. If you do not crawl, she calls you back and beat you again. We are also forced to spend the whole day washing trees until they shine,” explained one of the girls.
Early this year, the teachers are said to have punished all Standard Eight pupils who had ‘tuition fees’ arrears for both this year and last year, all this with the blessing of the Head teacher. They were also caned for not bringing money to buy a padlock for their classroom.
One of them is said to have been reported to the police sometimes last year for breaking a kid’s arm while caning him but the matter was swept under the carpet when the Head teacher intervened.
“The Head teacher asked the teachers to contribute money to cater for his hospital bill and to ‘silence’ his parents. That matter ended without any action,” said our sources.
According to the sources, the Head teacher is apparently well connected that efforts to report her to the higher authorities have borne no fruits.
“Recently she demanded Sh240 from Standard Seven and Eight for exams. Other classes pay Sh80. The Standard Eight pupils were asked to add Sh100 to assist her in processing their KCPE registration.
Last year’s candidates were asked to pay Sh200 while picking their results, claiming to be the cost for their processing.
We cannot take her anywhere because it seems that the DEO protects her,” said a parent.
Last year, the government banned schools from charging students tuition fees or any other monies not stipulated in the regulations.
The government banned corporal punishment in schools in 2001 and enacted the Children’s Act (Government of Kenya, 2001) which entitled children to protection from all forms of abuse and violence.

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