Adopt Alternative Discipline to end school unrest

School discipline is a major concern in Kenya today. Students becoming unruly and bending laws is so rampant. Hardly does a day go without school infernos making headlines. As property is destroyed and lives lost, dreams are also being shattered. This unrest ravaging the very fabric of our educational institutions has sparked debates on the causes of the escalating rowdiness and how possible we can control it as a nation. Of great concern is if corporal punishment should be reintroduced in schools. Proponents of this view argue that teachers have limited and ineffective options to consider when disciplining students. Will this offer a lasting solution? Why should we ban caning and think of bringing it back? Why not embrace alternatives to corporal punishment?

Alternatives to Corporal Punishment

Alternative discipline is guiding children using non-violent response. Importantly, this model allows you to create a positive environment so that children can see the values modeled to them.

Workable punishing strategies

Reflection – This is meant to help children think about their behaviour. Teachers can use this approach for ongoing minor offenses in school.

Reparation- For offenses that cause damage to school property, repair and replace, financial restitution and Public apology. However, in some cases, the damage could be too big for parents to meet the costs.

Penalty – When teacher apply this model, they make children understand the consequences of their behaviour.

Last resort – In case the above options prove futile, there is always the last one. For serious offenses, it is necessary to help children rehabilitate. Thus, referrals, calling parents, suspensions, sending the child to the head teacher are highly recommended.

How to engage children

  • Give attention- Children need attention from parents, guardians, teachers and other caregivers to feel at ease to share their grievances.
  • Impart life skills- It helps children manage peer pressure and should start from home and stressed at school.
  • Impart positive discipline – It is the role of caregivers and actors to teach children accepted society norms and continuously enforce good behavior by rewarding.  
  • Listen to their views by having continuous dialogue through representatives
  • Have clear rules and enforce them regularly and consistently
  • Understand the child development stages (12- 18- Identity versus role confusion stage) and respond to the needs as this will form part of the discipline in children for that age category.

Who to blame

As the debate on taming school unrest rages, the one million-dollar question is; who is to blame? A fair answer is that everyone has a role to play and so, everyone has failed.

Parents – The first victims to carry this ‘indiscipline cross.’ Parents, since time immemorial, are responsible for moulding correct behaviour in children right from birth. Their failure however, has ripple effects.

Teachers – Should have created avenues where children can ventilate on their issues and also keep tabs on potential troubles. Since rioting in schools is not spontaneous, it could have been triggered by issues not previously addressed.

Government- The government has significantly failed at policy formulation level. It banned corporal punishment but did not give alternative discipline methods to teachers. Today, teachers have to use Guiding and Counselling yet most of them are not professional counsellors. In addition, they have to deal with many children in class; so manty think that the authority comes from the cane.

Changed times; new challenges
A lot has changed over time. From globalization to the information age, the issues affecting children are more complex than before. Children today consume huge media content. They tend to copy what they see. In essence, discipline measures that worked in 90’s cannot work today. Teachers use violence to correct misbehavior and children react with rebellion. There is every need for schools to use alternative measures to handle incidences of indiscipline among children by playing a parental role to children.