“Kenyan School Beating Survivor Sparks Concern Over Rising Violence”
The shocking case of Caleb Mwangi, a Kenyan student brutally beaten at a South African school for taking extra food, has brought to the forefront a deeply concerning issue. After being subjected to a traumatic assault that left him in an induced coma, Caleb spent 11 days in intensive care, grappling with the physical and emotional scars that continue to haunt him nearly two years later.
Caleb’s father, Fred Mwangi, describes the horrifying incident, emphasizing the extensive scars that now cover his son’s back. The severity of the wounds forced surgeons to resort to skin grafts from his thighs for treatment, and the brutality of the attack is documented in disturbing images.
Kenya’s historical legacy of corporal punishment in schools, dating back to the colonial era and missionary influence, remains deeply ingrained. Despite the government’s official ban on the practice in 2001, attitudes toward corporal punishment have been slow to change. Recent figures from the 2019 Violence Against Children report reveal that over half of Kenyan young adults between 18 and 24 still believe that corporal punishment by teachers is necessary.
An investigation by BBC Africa Eye has unveiled an alarming increase in severe cases of school beatings, with many incidents going unreported. In Caleb’s case, he alleges that Nancy Gachewa, the director of Gremon Education Centre, not only initiated the brutal assault but also ordered fellow students to continue the punishment. Gachewa vehemently denies these accusations, claiming that she was not present at the school when the incident occurred.
The surge in violent school beatings has sparked concerns, with reports indicating that the most severe cases have quadrupled in the past three years. Many such incidents remain hidden from public view, prompting calls for urgent action.
An anonymous source within the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), responsible for managing the teaching profession in Kenya, has disclosed that severe school beatings have reached crisis proportions. The source explained that many cases reported to the TSC at the county level fail to progress further, often due to evidence tampering and a lack of witnesses.
Alarmingly, over the past five years, more than 20 deaths linked to school beatings have been reported in the media, underscoring the gravity of the issue. One former deputy principal, Elizabeth Wairimu Gatimu, faces murder charges in connection with a student’s death.
While Caleb and his family await justice, organizations like Beacon Teachers Africa, launched by Plan International and the TSC, are actively working to change the status quo. The initiative’s primary aim is to empower teachers to protect children in schools and their communities, educating them about their rights and providing training on discipline without resorting to corporal punishment.
As the survivor of a brutal school beating seeks justice, the alarming rise in severe cases of school violence in Kenya underscores the urgent need for increased attention and action to protect students from harm.