Rethinking School Discipline in Africa

From punishment and control to restorative justice practices

Authored by: Augustine Obeleagu Agu , Patrick Ibe

The Routledge Handbook on Africana Criminologies

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367435721
eBook ISBN: 9781003004424
Adobe ISBN:


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The current education systems across Africa were all framed on the former education systems of the colonizing powers (Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, etc.). “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was the prevailing modus operandi in Europe. Consequently, this philosophy of discipline enforcement in schools, characterized mainly by corporal punishment, became one of the tools of maintaining control in schools. This appears to have worked for some time as order was maintained through fear. However, it appears that punishment as a means of controlling children is not working. Alternative approaches to school discipline that promote personal accountability and allow the students opportunities to have their voices heard on issues that affect them need to be put in place. We propose the use of restorative justice principles and practices in African schools. Restorative justice practices in schools, which are based on relationships and not rules, are indigenous to the African communities’ ways of conflict resolution and reconciliation. The chapter will be organized as follows: (a) Background that is a critique of the traditional school discipline practices, (b) a description of the restorative justice approach/paradigm, and (c) suggestions for the implementation framework of a restorative justice approach.

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