TSC sets up team to investigate abuse in Vihiga school

Teacher films colleagues ruthlessly caning girls in a school touted as an academic and discipline giant, reviving age-old debate on how to best chastise truant students

Thursday February 25 2016

An image showing a school girl weeping. Teachers Service Commission on February 24, 2016 set up a team to investigate student abuse at Keveye Girls’ Secondary School in Vihiga County after a six-minute video emerged this week of three teachers heavily caning students. IMAGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

An image showing a school girl weeping. Teachers Service Commission on February 24, 2016 set up a team to investigate student abuse at Keveye Girls’ Secondary School in Vihiga County after a six-minute video emerged this week of three teachers heavily caning students. IMAGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By DERICK LUVEGA
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Spare the rod and spoil the child, goes a popular saying.

But the government thinks this is a misguided, misleading adage, and so it has banned corporal punishment, particularly caning, in schools since 2011.

However, a school in Vihiga County seems to think the government is wrong, and so its teachers have not been sparing any rod in meting out discipline among its student population.

Keveye Girls’ Secondary School has previously been in the news for all the right reasons; for one, it is one of the academic giants in Vihiga, its girls are regarded as some of the brightest in the region, and also some of the most well-behaved.

But today, Keveye is in the news for an improper reason, after a video emerged this week of what is claimed to be its teachers caning students last year.

The school management Wednesday did not deny that its teachers thrash students, saying only that the “leaking” of the video clip could be malicious.

SET UP COMMITTEE

The video, said to have been recorded by one of the teachers, was posted on Facebook on Tuesday evening.

The ensuing public anger over the disturbing images has attracted the attention of the Teachers Service Commission, which Wednesday set up a committee to investigate the matter.

“I have seen the video,” said TSC county director Stephen Mudho. “It is very recent. My committee will visit the school and launch investigations into the matter and authenticate whether the video is real or choreographed before taking any action.”

Mr Mudho noted that there were wrangles between the teachers and the administration, which could have resulted in the leaking of the video clip.

The six-minute footage shows four teachers — three men and a woman — standing in line and heavily caning the students in the school’s staff room.

The students, like cows lined up in a slaughterhouse, wait in line, terrified but accepting of their fate.

After the four teachers are done with the students in the staff room, the learners are then passed over to yet another teacher waiting at the door for more caning.

The video — whose authenticity the Nation could not verify — was recorded last year just before the schools closed for December holidays, but surfaced this week.

Contacted Wednesday, the principal, Ms Judith Ngome, read malice on the timing of the release and blamed bad blood among her teachers for the turn of events.

“This is malice,” she said. “Why is a video that was recorded last year being made public now? Some of my teachers have turned down my efforts to reconcile them after quarrelling before students and this could be the reason for emergence of the video.”

Promising to investigate the incident, Ms Ngome assured parents that their daughters were “in safe hands”.

Mr Mudho said disciplinary action would be taken against responsible teachers.

“Caning is outlawed. We also ask the board of management to meet and separately investigate the matter and report back to his office immediately,” he said.

The issue of corporal punishment has remained a thorny affair in Kenyan schools for a long time and has been widely debated since the government banned it more than a decade ago.

TAMING UNREST

Last year, churches called for the lifting of the ban, saying this would help tame student unrest.

The call was made by the National Council of Churches of Kenya at the close of its annual general assembly at Jumuia Conference and Beach Resort in Kanamai, Kilifi County.

The council’s secretary-general  Peter Karanja said “the Ministry of Education has lopsided policies in schools discipline””

“The Bible has no problem with caning,” he said. “It says if you cane a child, the child will not die but you will save his or her soul.”

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