Although corporal punishment in Kenyan schools was banned in 2001, an investigation by BBC Africa Eye has revealed the practice still goes on, sometimes leading to deaths.
The BBC documentary cited the case of Caleb Mwangi who was so severely beaten at school for taking extra food at breakfast (five chapatis) he had to be put into an induced coma during 11 days in intensive care.
Caleb wounds were so deep, skin had to be taken from his thighs to be used for skin grafts to his back, arms, legs and face which had been lacerated by nearly 100 strokes.
Corporal punishment accepted by many
This disturbing case of assault is perhaps made more worrying by the fact that many younger Kenyans think corporal punishment is justified.
In 2019 for the Violence Against Children report, a national survey of 18 to 24-year-olds found over half of those responding thought that it was necessary for teachers to use corporal punishment.
Severe beatings four-fold increase
The BBC found that Caleb’s case was by no means unique and that the numbers of cases of severe beatings was increasing.
Quoting an anonymous employee of Teachers Services Commission (TSC), the BBC heard that over the last three years, reports of severe beatings had increased four-fold, from 7 to 29. However, the source suggested most incidents are not even reported.
The source told the BBC that the TSC at county level are often not followed up, or that witnesses cannot be contacted.
Killed because of hairstyle
In March 2019, Ebbie Noelle Samuels, a boarder at Gatanga CCM Secondary School in Murang’a County, was beaten to death seemingly because her a deputy principal did not like her hairstyle. An autopsy revealed that Ebbie had suffered a severe head injuries and blunt force trauma.
More than 20 deaths – TSC and Education Ministry remain silent
In the last five years there have been more than 20 deaths of school children linked to beatings reported in the Kenyan media.
The BBC reported that they had contacted the TSC about these allegations but without reply. BBC African Eye also asked for an interview with the Kenyan Ministry of Education but again no one would speak to them.