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04.04.2019 Feature Article

The Missing Link In Our Education: Get It Back, Save Ghana's Future

The Missing Link In Our Education: Get It Back, Save Ghana's Future

The dream of every nation including Ghana is to provide the best and holistic education for its citizens. Over the years, governments tweak and tinker with their educational policies in conformity with their culture and national aspirations in order to churn out all-round and functional citizens who would push the developmental agenda of the nation.

There however, seem to be a missing link in the provision of quality education in the Ghanaian way which has helped produce prominent people in this nation. This missing link is CORPORAL PUNISHMENT BY CANING. Sadly, caning has been abolished in Ghanaian schools. On March 16, 2017, published an article captioned "Corporal Punishment is illegal, GES warns" in which the then Director General of the Ghana Education Service(GES) warned teachers to desist from caning pupils as punishments. In another recent article published on March 22, 2018 at, GES has encouraged students to report teachers who cane them. Even now, the GES has incited parents to deal ruthlessly with any teacher who by means of punishment, canes their wards.

How many of us including Directors of Education would not reminisce with nostalgia, the good old days in school where there were hot mentals and dictations facilitated by the canes and how this has propelled us to where we are now? How many of us are in sincerity not grateful to our teachers who caned us for failing to do our homeworks, classworks and misdemeanours we committed? Many of us would have relaxed in learning and might have ended up as deviants social misfits were it not for the doses of revitalisation we received from the cane.

J. S Kerr, an Australian proponent of punishment by caning described teachers as 'in loco parentis' meaning teachers represent parents as figures of authority in the schools (English Common-law precedent of 1770). This authorirty gives teachers the backbone to fully exercise Proverbs 13:24 in which we were warned not to spare the child with the cane when he/she goes wrong.

Critics of corporal punishment by caning argue that caning results in injuries to pupils, promotes violence among pupils when they grow up, has emotional effects on pupils and ultimately against the rights of the pupils.

Concerning injuries, an estimated 1 to 2 percent of physically punished students in the United States get injured which includes bruises and abrasions. The fact that not more than 2 percent sustain small degrees of injuries suggests that caning is not meant to injure pupils but to correct them, as the Bible says that "if you beat him with a rod he won't die" . After all, when we were caned those days, we didn't die, we rather grew up better and better.

Observations have revealed that pupils who were not caned when they went wrong in schools grew up to be more violent than those who were corrected by caning. Those caned eventually changed their bad ways while their counterparts who refused to be caned ended up as dropouts and continued their bad deeds. This is why thugs are able to invade court premises in the middle of proceedings, manhandle the judge and free suspects. Ghanaians should put on their spectacles and be ready to watch more of this drama if we do not reinstate caning as a disciplinary tool in schools.

It would be miles better to cane students for smoking marijuana than to withhold the cane which can end them up in permanent emotional damage of madness. And does the GES and the Ministry of Education argue that caning is against the right of the child? Doesn't this same child has the right to quality education? What has been done about the latter? Has every school been renovated to the state-of-the-art standard? Can our policy makers remember the last time reading materials, lesson note books, registers and even chalk were distributed to schools?

It is heart-wrenching when Ghana is compared to European nations with respect to the abolishment of caning in schools. In making this comparison, do we take into account the pupil-teacher ratio, the school environment, and infrastructure, availability of adequate and relevant teaching materials and the cultural background of these European schools? Why this blind "copy and paste"?

Yes, all European countries have prohibited caning with most of the ban coming into effect in the 21st century, but what has the nine Southern and Western states in The USA identified unique in caning that makes them still suscribe to it in their schools? The GES should learn from this.

Finally, but interestingly, most countries, who in the name of 'human rights' abolished caning have now legalised gayism, lesbianism and bestiality. If we do not want these barbarisms in our dear nation, then caning should be reintroduced in our schools or else, in the next ten years, I cannot help but weep for mother Ghana because the calibre of professionals our schools would produce would be as good as your guess.

Joseph Amofah
Joseph Amofah, © 2019

The author is an educationist with many years of work experience and an essayist with interest in educational and national issues. Author column: JosephAmofah

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