Happy Independence Day Ghana!

Ghana is 57 today, having gained independence from the UK on the 6th of March, 1957.

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Back then the independence of Ghana (named after the historic empire that existed in parts of present day Mali and Mauritania) had a lot of symbolic value given that it was the first majority black African country to gain independence.

Picture of the Day — Corporal Punishment in Ghanaian Schools

I am presently in Ghana on a work/fun trip and took this picture in Nkwanta, a small town in the northern part of Volta Region. It is of a bookstore that also stocks caning sticks.

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My partner (who knows everything Ghanaian better than I do) tells me that corporal punishment is legal in Ghana and is regulated by the Ghana Education Services. Apparently teachers are supposed to keep all records of caning incidents, noting the name, age, and reason for caning a student as well as number of lashes given (which should not exceed six). No prizes for guessing if these regulations are ever enforced.

Article 13(2) of the Children’s Act (1998) allows for “justifiable” and “reasonable” correction of a child. In the Education Act (1961), the Ghana Education Code of Discipline for second cycle school provides for caning up to six strokes by a head teacher or person authorised by the head (source).

For a comparative take, corporal punishment has been illegal in Kenya for a while, but is weakly enforced. I was caned a couple of times as a student at Mang’u High School (once for being at the canteen during sports hour and again when my whole class – the (in)famous Form II South – was caned for “misbehaving”). No one thought it worth our time to report such incidents to our parents.