The danger of corporal punishment, teachers beware

By Elkanah Nyauma


Did you know that children appreciate and want to be around teachers who appreciate, love, encourage and celebrate their gifting, talents, and abilities? Now I know why I lived in obscurity for 27 years.

I lived in Kericho, now Kericho County all my primary and high school years. I went to Tagabi Primary School and here is the problem. Our teachers never invested in building relationships with us. The headteacher Mr. Bett used to tell us, “Nitachaba wewe mpaka wewe talete mama yako” (I will beat you until you bring your mother to complain in school). Mrs. Faridah, my first grade teacher disliked me with passion because of my ever-running nose and nicknamed me “Kijana wa makamasi” – (Swahili for “the mucus boy”). Mr. Ng’erech and Mr. Martingwony used to beat us like they were punishing prisoners and Mr. Ng’etich found a reason to shame you before other pupils in the school parade (morning and evening gatherings).

In Tagabi Primary School, firewood for the teachers was the pupils’ and therefore the parents’ responsibility. All of us were supposed to carry firewood to school, a failure to which one was subjected to a severe beating from one Mr. Ng’etich who was substituted by Mr. Martingwony or Mr. Ng’erech when he was absent. This is teacher-student abuse, this is total abuse.

“We as educators, need to be aware that on top of the demands of providing the highest quality of academic excellence, we should also be cognizant that our students may require increased levels of compassion, support and empathy. Jenny Coetzee, MD, Crawford International School Kenya.

The opinion

Teacher-student abuse should be treated as an international crime. Teachers are meant to be the icons of love and direction. They are meant to know what is happening in the lives of those they teach. They are supposed to bring understanding by walking with them, talking to them, encouraging them, supporting them in every way, carrying them through their weaknesses, threats, and failures, and building hope in them instead of being the ones feared by those they teach because they know how to punish.

Teachers should not work for money but work to change every system of the world by first learning and understanding relationships. Teachers should be in the forefront to help those they teach discover why they exist and the greater vision of life; to live in purpose. They should be the ones close to those they teach, understanding them and asking them about where they are in life, getting ideas and views from them about what can be done to make their lives better. This is the responsibility of teachers; this is their life’s goal.


I urge teachers all over the world to take this message with great seriousness especially the former who are experts in abuse; a good number of them. God has given you people to love and nurture and expects you to do exactly that. Kenyan teachers, “Stop abusing students but instead pray that God will teach you how to love and invest in relating with them.” Stop taking teaching for granted. Teaching is one of the greatest careers in the world and it requires the love of God for you to be a teacher (the greatest of all is love – 1 Corinthians 13:13) and determines what people will be like and therefore what will happen.


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