Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Exposing corporal punishment in Ghana schools hits a sour note

Yesterday in my response to an article on the virtues of Ghanaian schools, (or lack thereof), I received quite an earful/screenful from Anonymous.

I took a step back, digested his/her comments (highlighted below):

"I have read the article you quoted and to be frank your posting is much more biased and highly exaggerated in comparison.

In your hasty attempt to rebutt an article which, I suppose, does not conform to your idea of "Ghanaian education", you intentionally come up with half-truths and complete falsehoods to justify your entrenched perception.

That is a shame!

I am a Ghanaian. I, like many Ghanaian children, received my elementary and secondary education in an unimaginably poor rural area of Ghana, but I had a good foundation which enabled me to gain admission into an ivy-league college in the States.
We may not have had the very best of what money could buy, but certainly we did not recieve an inferior education judging by my grades in class.
It is totally false to claim that "students are not asked to write 'in their own words' about topics they read".In fact, we were taught never to copy from others but submit our own independent work every time.
Since when has teaching children to keep their environment clean become an abuse? In America, they have the money to hire peple to take care of the schools' environment, in Ghana the children help to clean. There is nothing superior about the American approach.
At least, we are not confronted with the issues of shootings and violence in many of the schools in the west. And the reason for that, if you care to know, is:Ghanaian children are taught to respect authority and not fear them,as you claimed.
Reading your post will not help the reader, because it is not only full of exaggerations, but outright antagonistic in nature.

Have a nice day!"

And then I came to the conclusion that my experiences and observations have not been imagined or exaggerated. Nor am I the only one to observe the things I noted. I realise that exposing the harsh truths about what really goes on in Ghanaian schools is something that many Ghanaians (especially those abroad)are not happy about at all.

There is a perception among many westerners that corporal punishment is negative, despite the circumstances, and therefore the truth of it being at the core of the Ghanaian school system is something often breezed over or brushed under the carpet.

I was then alerted to another article called "Ghana's School of Hard Knocks", in the Epoch Times, dated earlier this year, which could be considered biased by my anonymous reader, as this is written by a Canadian who teaches in Ghana, with a stepson attending school here. It's worth a read. Here is an excerpt:

" From the first moment of junior kindergarten, at the tender age of four, the cane enters the life of Ghana's school children. How else can teachers manage with classes ranging from 40 (the smallest I've heard) to 62? Teachers, breathe deeply.

The environment in schools is punitory. If a class does poorly on an exam, all the students may be caned. If a child's clothes aren't neat, his nails aren't trimmed, or he comes to school without a handkerchief, he may be caned. If he is late, it's the cane for sure.

" Having taught school here, I quickly noticed that the children are addicted to the cane. Without one in your hand, they feel it unnecessary to listen to you. They are like convicts in a prison, going wild when the guards are off the range.

I have noticed that children here often lie to avoid the harsh punishment. There is no emphasis on "goodness for goodness sake," or on internalizing moral reasoning—the moral code is governed by the cane. I worry that this focus on external may be the tiny seed from which corruption springs, and the popular idea that "if you're not caught, it wasn't wrong."

The trouble is that her observations are not false - I can relate to most examples she gives.

The question becomes whether corporal punishment is truly as bad as westerners believe, whether it hampers education and self confidence in children, whether it instills fear and develops the habit of lying, whether it is wrong morally and tramples the human rights of vulnerable children ... not whether it in fact occurs daily in Ghanaian schools. That answer is a resounding YES.
Thanks For Making This Possible! Kindly Bookmark and Share it.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble Facebook Twitter


Anonymous said...

I have been a regular reader of your blog for months now. I really really hate to comment on other people's opinions. There is always the temptation to think you (that is, the commentator) can see further than the writer and that the writer is handicapped by one reason or another from seeing the full picture. But given what I just read by 'anonymous" I cannot hold my tongue any longer. I have thought long and hard on this issue and would very much like to give my two cents on it. If it is ok with you I will use your forum to express my views. Give me two week to work on my response and I promise you will not regret it.
Kwasi Appiah

The pale observer said...

Hi Kwasi

I look forward to your comments. I hope always to encourage healthy debate.

Perhaps if you are interested, you could write a 'guest post' on the topic.

A. Gillispie said...

While I haven't spent a ton of time in Ghana schools, I can speak from experience with the children that we care for and educate and Eban House Children's Home in Teshie.

In our experience it is true that children don't know how to respond to authority that does not use corperal punishment. Our children's home and school DOES NOT, and it has been more than a small challenge. Not only do our kids not respond to authority, but our "authority" (teacher, child care workers, etc.) do not know how to discipline without "beating." We do training sessions on how to discipline children without corperal punishment, as it's absolutely not allowed.

It is definitely an ongoing challenge with the children. Our kids are not as silent or submissive in the classroom (or home) as most Ghanaian children. Nor do we really want them to be.


The pale observer said...

Hi Anita

Thanks for your contribution. I wonder what the long term effect will be, having removed this type of authority and punishment in the children's lives.

It must be completely alien to the Ghanaian careworkers as well.

Corporal punishment is a cornerstone of Ghanaian culture, starting in the home and continued with intensity at school...

A. Gillispie said...

Yes, it's very difficult. In our case, all of the children in our care will eventually be adopted into American homes, so it behooves us to start working on it as soon as possible. We do a lot of things more "Western" in our home in order to help the kids start to acclimate to how it will be in America. But I will be honest in saying that the trade off is that our kids sometimes come home acting quite spoiled! Most of the time though, they have made the "switch" over to being disciplined/motivated without fear, which is a good thing.


posekyere said...

Hi Holli,
It is sad that some among us are refusing to come to terms with the realities on the ground.
Let us hope that the archaic and disturbing ways in the Ghanaian society will be confronted by the people themselves to allow the rapid upliftment of the country.

Continue to speak and write about the wrongs in our society.
You are an activist for change.

Wes said...

Hi Holli,
as an American in a Ghanaian school, I feel i am somewhat qualified to comment on this. You know what has struck me so often about ghana of late is the term "developing country," and how so many of the aspects of this country really are struggling to develop. I certainly feel that education is one of those. I have to be honest, I have a dislike for school here that borders on hate, and it is mostly due to the teachers. I have about two teachers who I like, but the majority have absolutely no respect for their students, and some are outright rude to us. We are told that we should "submit" to them because they are appointed by god to be our sheppards. Thanks, but I am no sheep, and they are in general bad shepards. The caning is absolutely disgusting too, I have seen students hit in every imagineable place, even the face. I think that if Ghana really wants to "move forward" they need to get rid of this punishment, and definitely give their education system a big overhaul, as I can see that to a large extent it isn't working. A huge percenteage of students in my class fail exams regularly, and a passing grade is 40%! Things definitely need to change.

The pale observer said...

Hi Wes - thanks for visiting and thanks especially for your highly relevant contribution. The perspective of a western teenager in a Ghanaian school is probably quite unique and allows for insights that the adults can only postulate about.

Did you read the original articxle that spurred my post below? An American man published the article on a site in Iowa, claiming that the Iowa school board could take some lessons from Ghanaian schools in terms of teacher quality and levels of discipline. What do you think???

Lynda said...

Wow - seems you have ruffled some feathers... it is midnight here now and I need to sleep - will be back for a little more indepth reading. (I have had my own share of 'anon' comments of late.. look back a couple of posts)

Cheers Lulu

The pale observer said...

Hi Anita

Do you have grown ups or teen boys? I have a bunch of clothes to give away (but they are hand me downs from teen boys mostly) - could you guys use them?

krissy said...

Holli- I've been reading all the articles, your posts and the comments and thinking about this. What kind of interventionist strategies do you think could be used?

What about a massive ad campain on TV and billboards where children basically ask their teachers to "put down the cane"? With a slogan about...I don't know, how distress kills learning.

What can be done? Where is the root of the problem? Other than bearing witness, what policies can be addressed and how? Who can be mobilized? A study maybe, undertaken by a joint project bw UBC and University of Legon, for example, on the links between low academic achievement and caning? I honestly think that caning in the school systems is one of the biggest things, in terms of its social/psychological ripple effect, that is holding the country back in its development.

I really, really liked the Hard Knocks article. I remember one time at the library, none of the children would listen to me- they were all getting wilder and wilder and I was the only authority figure present. A little boy came up to me and said "Aunty..." and pushed a cane into my hand. Suddenly all the kids went quiet and looked at me...I couldn't tell if it was respect on their faces or fear, or what. It was disturbing. The little girl i lived with was despondent for days because one of her teachers had been systematically beating the whole class everyday, and it wasn't until the third day that she admitted to me what was going on and showed me her welts- on her back and on her hands. i saw a complete transformation in her disposition, from cheerful and curious, to withdrawn, suspicious and terrified of school.

And the whole time we had this poster on the wall that said:

"children learn what they live"

If a child live with criticism,
A child learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
A child learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
A child learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
A child learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance,
A child learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
A child learns confidence.
If a child lives with fairness,
A child learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
A child learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
A child learns self-esteem.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
A child learns to find love in the world.

The pale observer said...

Hi Krissy - excellent comments and suggestions. It's just as you've said, the practise of caning in shcools has a profound effect on society. However the cycle will continue until the adults in Ghana decide that it is not a beneficial. All the initiatives started by outsiders will only do like aid does, cover a wound, appease some westerners, and ultimately be unsustainable. How do you get culture to change before it's natural evolutionary cycle? Convince those within it that there is a better way....

Amy Gilewski said...

Hello there. This is my first time reading your blog, and I felt compelled to add something myself. I'm a chemistry teacher in the Upper West. The north of Ghana is reported to be about 50 years behind the south in terms of development. I have also witnessed students being beaten at my secondary school. Not only was I shocked and appauled at it, but was concerned enough to make a complaint to the headmaster. He agrees that it is wrong for teachers to cane students, but under current Ghana Education Service guidelines agrees that he should be allowed to give out 6 lashes if this punishment is necessary. What is shocking is that most of the students here are over 18 years and still accept the cane. Even the senior prefects are seen walking around with canes while on duty, even though they are not authorised to use it. What saddens me is the hugely embedded culture of not asking why here. They don't ask why they are being caned, or why they are allowed to be caned, just as they don't ask why their money goes into other peoples pockets, or why MPs drive fancy cars, or why Kufour is allowed to buy two planes. It makes me sad that the status quo is accepted and even encouraged as a form of "tradition." I was once told to "stay quiet, suffer small" here by another Ghanaian teacher, and I wonder how many Ghanaians believe in this. Until that mentality is challenged and corrected, I'm afraid it will be a long time before corporal punishment will be not only officially abolished in Ghana, but also recognised to be abolished by all schools and teachers.

The pale observer said...

Hi Amy - thanks for reading and for your comments and contribution. I hope we are at a stage where people aren't honestly denying the beatings are common, but rather at a level where Ghana must decide whether it is a legitimate form of discipline. I believe you and I are on the same wave length on this issue - and as long as Ghana receives Aid and actively recruits volunteers from abroad they will have to deal with the scrutiny of other cultures. However, ultimately they must decide on a cultural level to change or not to change.

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

Anonymous said...

Good day !.
You re, I guess , perhaps very interested to know how one can collect a huge starting capital .
There is no initial capital needed You may start earning with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you thought of all the time
The firm represents an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

Its head office is in Panama with affiliates around the world.
Do you want to become an affluent person?
That`s your chance That`s what you wish in the long run!

I feel good, I started to take up income with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. If it gets down to select a correct partner utilizes your money in a right way - that`s AimTrust!.
I earn US$2,000 per day, and my first deposit was 1 grand only!
It`s easy to start , just click this link http://oniqopaji.100megsfree5.com/awexem.html
and go! Let`s take this option together to get rid of nastiness of the life

Anonymous said...

You may probably be very interested to know how one can manage to receive high yields on investments.
There is no need to invest much at first.
You may begin to get income with a money that usually goes
for daily food, that's 20-100 dollars.
I have been participating in one project for several years,
and I'll be glad to share my secrets at my blog.

Please visit my pages and send me private message to get the info.

P.S. I make 1000-2000 per day now.

http://theinvestblog.com [url=http://theinvestblog.com]Online Investment Blog[/url]

Anonymous said...

Genial post and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you on your information.

Anonymous said...

Glad to greet you, ladies and gentlemen!

Sure, you’ve heard about me, because my fame is running in front of me,
my parents call me Nikolas.
Generally I’m a venturesome analyst. recently I take a great interest in online-casino and poker.
Not long time ago I started my own blog, where I describe my virtual adventures.
Probably, it will be interesting for you to find out how to win not loose.
Please visit my web page . http://allbestcasino.com I’ll be interested on your opinion..

Anonymous said...

Do You interesting how to [b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b]? You can find below...
[size=10]>>>[url=http://listita.info/go.php?sid=1][b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b][/url]<<<[/size]

[b]Bonus Policy[/b]
Order 3 or more products and get free Regular Airmail shipping!
Free Regular Airmail shipping for orders starting with $200.00!

Free insurance (guaranteed reshipment if delivery failed) for orders starting with $300.00!

Generic Viagra (sildenafil citrate; brand names include: Aphrodil / Edegra / Erasmo / Penegra / Revatio / Supra / Zwagra) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction regardless of the cause or duration of the problem or the age of the patient.
Sildenafil Citrate is the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men. It can help men who have erectile dysfunction get and sustain an erection when they are sexually excited.
Generic Viagra is manufactured in accordance with World Health Organization standards and guidelines (WHO-GMP). Also you can find on our sites.
Generic Viagra is made with thorough reverse engineering for the sildenafil citrate molecule - a totally different process of making sildenafil and its reaction. That is why it takes effect in 15 minutes compared to other drugs which take 30-40 minutes to take effect.
Even in the most sexually liberated and self-satisfied of nations, many people still yearn to burn more, to feel ready for bedding no matter what the clock says and to desire their partner of 23 years as much as they did when their love was brand new.
The market is saturated with books on how to revive a flagging libido or spice up monotonous sex, and sex therapists say “lack of desire” is one of the most common complaints they hear from patients, particularly women.

Anonymous said...

Как говорилось на Seexi.net Правда ли что современные новые утюжки с ионизаторами и с тефлоновым покрытием не омрачают волосы и ими можно пользоваться ежедневно? у меня непокорные, очень пышные волосы, голову мою ежедневно..не испорчу?

male masturbation with mom stories usa said...

Come on, Stephanie, move your scrawny butt. .
interracial cuckold stories
free erotic porn pics stories
bdsm stories of capture and torcher
adult bookstore sex stories
free male beastiality stories
Come on, Stephanie, move your scrawny butt. .

free families in real incest stories said...

E. After he finished depositing his cum intomy body, he continued to fuck me but he now fucked me slower andslower until he went soft and slid out of my cunt.
free nurse adult stories
baby sitting fuck stories
wish gone wrong bdsm stories
masturbation stories
bdsm horse device stories
E. After he finished depositing his cum intomy body, he continued to fuck me but he now fucked me slower andslower until he went soft and slid out of my cunt.

Anonymous said...


This is my friend's (private) invitation link. This link contains an awesome video information about the new free
traffic sourse that allows you to make money in just 58 minutes.. I'm sure that It will be very useful for
everybody. Of caurse I have never broken the promise given to my friend, but only for the inhabitants of this
excellent forum i did such a present)

so, I wish you luck and great opportunities with my little revelation)
see you in my next posts

p.s. I and my friend from France:)

Anonymous said...

I like watching [url=http://www.finsfootball.com]football[/url] on [url=http://www.finsfootball.com/bbc-football]bbc football[/url] chanel. How about you people?

Anonymous said...

Festival season in full swing, in Cannes, won the Terrence Malick, Chairman of the Jury Robert De Niro great fellow.
Meanwhile, JJ Abrams finally show the world your secret movie [url=http://microsoftt.net/]"Super 8"[/url] about the kids with a camera. "Super 8" and we gave in this month's cover, even two. Also in the June issue will tell you everything that they themselves had to find out about the [url=http://microsoftt.net/]"X-Men: First Class"[/url] (Fassbender! Dzhenyueri Jones!), "Green Lantern", "Beaver" (beaver takes on Mel Gibbs of depression).
P.S. Well, as the English say, last but notleast: start typing epichechesky guide to Stanley Kubrick's creativity. Who is against it - to the deuce!

[url=http://microsoftt.net/]cкачать близнецы-убийцы[/url]

Christyeijb said...

However, the trick to handle your no fax payday loan is to take no more than required. You need to get a membership plan to a service, or to sign up for a free service first, of course. There was no deception in their advertising. Since, these loans are available within a limited period of time; hence, borrowers credit scores is not taken into account. In opting between these two categories of machines, fax machines price comparison plays a crucial role. When I'm not carrying on with research projects, my personal time is with my first love, my loved ones. You can also go to your email fax account settings and activate the option to have your incoming faxes sent directly to your email. Many Internet fax services may include some inconvenient clauses and even impose a ceiling on the number of faxes you can send each month and any faxes beyond the specified limit will attract extra cost. You just need to have a laptop or a computer and also an internet connection. Thus, the loan can a also be useful in improving your rating.

Anonymous said...

http://site.ru - [url=http://site.ru]site[/url] site

Anonymous said...

Brokersring.com - Learn how to turn $500 into $5,000 in a month!

[url=http://www.brokersring.com/]Make Money Online[/url] - The Secret Reveled with Binary Option

Binary Options is the way to [url=http://www.brokersring.com/]make money[/url] securely online

Anonymous said...

For RIM, there doeѕn't seem to be a selling point. Supposedly, there's a ѵery gοod reаѕon
that yоu shouldn't attempt to fix the scratches on your iphone -- it usually includes features that will help your phone use battery life more efficiently. The new phone also offers better battery management, so battery life is superb. A penguin-inspired iphone 5 is" coming soon" to Sprint. Whether the missing features matter remains to be seen. 99 on the iTunes App Store.

Anonymous said...

One сan purchasе at reаsonable prіces with a wide rаnge of
faѕhion consumption patterns for consumers. A metalliс gаrment is bоth
eye-саtching and glamorous anԁ can instantly mаkе yοu looκ eνen bіgger on thе top.
Many of these skirts are goіng to build the first dοmeѕtіc leаther museum Shu He cοbbler history gallerу.
65% Ιf anyone monitored the fashion inԁustry аnd Perkin becamе the acknowlеdgeԁ expeгt on aгtіficial ԁyes.
Dinnіgаn is known fоr hеr bold looks, oρted for demuгe thіs
time around with a blush colοreԁ top, black short shorts and a full-cut lοng blаck сoat.

Feel freе to viѕit mу blog :: Τhoi trang nam (kivilinn.tartu.ee)

Anonymous said...

This app compiles in one place the most popular streetstyle snaps on the internet.
Sisley Clothing is a wonderful resource for affordable clothing that
will help to become a Fashion merchandiser, world's best schools for Fashion merchandising root for your success in glamour photography and Fashion photography. As long as the material is cashmere or pashmina scarf, if it is not a household name.

my web-site ... Ao so mi nam

Life Experience Degrees said...

Definitely you shared great and informative post with everyone and I appreciate that.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Say something! Ramble a bit...

Visitor counter from June 5th, 2008

website counter