Two teachers and a private school have been fined Sh4.2 million for caning and injuring a pupil over alleged indiscipline.
The court found that the child’s rights had been abused and awarded damages of Sh4.2 million to be paid by the teachers and the school.
“Upon consideration of the pleadings, submissions and relevant laws, and exhibits produced in support of the petition and noting the injuries suffered by the minor, I am satisfied that the petitioners have demonstrated and proved the minor’s rights were violated by the respondents.
“The petitioner (EJK) is entitled to award of damages of Sh4 million,” ruled Justice James Makau.
The judge also awarded the parents of the child Sh200,000 for the trouble they went through to find a new school for the minor and to ensure pupil heals from trauma.
“The petitioners (EJK parents) are awarded Sh200,000 for the violation of their rights to be paid by the respondent jointly and respectively,” Justice Makau ruled.
In yesterday’s judgement, the primary school will now pay its former pupil and parent the amount as compensation for injuries caused by the teachers.
The judgement is based on a case where in March this year a pupil, code-named EJK, went home but was not his bubbly self.
After his mother inquired what had happened, the minor told her that his teachers had caned him for unknown reasons.
True to the minor’s word, his body bore marks from the beating.
The minor’s parents reported the incident to Soweto Police Station, but nothing happened.
When their efforts to pursue criminal charges against the two teachers hit a dead end, they opted to move to a constitutional court.
They asked the judge to find that EJK was tortured and treated in an inhumane manner.
According to the two parents, the minor refused to go back to school out of fear that he would be killed and he had nightmares.
EJK’s parents sought to transfer him but the school wrote a letter that it was impossible to find a new institution for the minor.
According to the parents, the corporal punishment and the letter were a demonstration of violence, cruelty, torture, inhumane treatment and degrading the child.
This, they argued, was against the rights of a minor and against international conventions on children. The school responded saying that the boy’s parents withdrew the complaint at the police station.
At the same time, it asserted that its teachers were instilling discipline on the minor with the consent of his parents.
“The respondents have also not denied issuing a letter that negatively impacts on the minor’s repute and as a result he has been unable to find another school jeopardising his right to education.
“In my view, based on the cited laws and the evidence adduced by the petitioners, I find that there is no doubt that the respondents violated the minor’s rights as alluded to in the petitioners pleadings,” said Justice Makau.
With the ongoing debate on whether to bring the cane back in schools to tame indiscipline, this judgement by the High Court brings a new twist to the issue.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha and his Interior counterpart Fred Matiang’i recently hinted at re-introduction of the cane.
The two officers said caning of errant students could be the answer to a spate of indiscipline cases witnessed in schools.
Kenya National Association of Parents chair Nicholas Maiyo said that caning can only be allowed back in schools if teachers are not allowed to dispense it.
“We can only allow once we have agreed who will cane the child but not the teacher because they harm our children,” said Maiyo.
A number of schools have had their dormitories burnt down and in most cases, the incidents were blamed on students who are said to set the dormitories on fire so they could be sent home.
The government in 2001 banned corporal punishment in schools and enacted the Children’s Act.
There had been numerous cases of students being injured by teachers out to discipline them. In a bid to stem such cases, corporal punishment was banned.
The Children’s Act, 2001 entitles children to protection from all forms of abuse and violence.
It addresses provision for parental responsibility, fostering, adoption, custody, maintenance, guardianship, care and protection of children and provision for the administration of children’s institutions.