“How many of you were beaten with canes by your teachers TODAY?” I asked the YCC students as a logical follow-up to our class discussion on corporal punishment in Ghana.
Ten hands shot up.
These were the loveliest, most well-behaved students I’d ever worked with, so I was surprised. “Why did your teacher cane you?” I asked.
They went around the circle and shared.
“I was late to class.”
“I was talking when the teacher was talking.”
“I didn’t bring my homework.”
“Where do they hit you when you get caned?” I inquired.
“Oh anywhere,” said Esteria, smiling shyly, “your back, your arms, your buttocks.”
“What do you think of this practice?” I asked.
“Well, it’s good and bad,” replied Reuben. “It’s good, because it really teaches you a lesson, and it keeps the class well-behaved. It’s bad because sometimes you are crying so hard afterwards that you cannot concentrate on the lesson.”
“The government of Ghana is starting to phase out caning,” explained YCC Administrator, Oliver. “Now there are other physical punishments like forced exercise, or making a child squat on the ground while crossing his arms and holding his ears for as long as the teacher says.”
But the differences with American schools don’t stop here. In Ghana, there is also the concept of a “Student Prefect.” In this system, one student is assigned the role of “Prefect,” and it is his or her job to write down the names of all of the chatty or disobedient children in each class. At the end of each day, the Prefect gives this list to an administrator, and the administrator beats these children with a cane.
“Sometimes the Prefect gets beat up on the way home by people he has reported,” admitted one student today. “Or sometimes he abuses his power and will put the name of his enemies as disobedient and his friends as well-behaved.”
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!