Opinion: Who is to blame for students' unrest?

Opinion: Who is to blame for  students' unrest?
  • PublishedNovember 8, 2021

It’s so shocking for keyboard warriors to show their might on social media platforms and lay blame over the existence of boarding schools as the cause of students unrest in schools.

Early this year, some students were found with crude weapons meant to cause harm to either school workers, teachers or fellow pupils. This raised eyebrows in our mainstream media and without critically thinking, the society laid blame to Covid-19 as the cause.

However, according to some findings aired by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation in the country, drugs and substance abuse, family issues, personal conflicts, corporal punishment and bullying were recorded as the causes of indiscipline among students in schools.

Consequently, even though some issues were tamed and some indisciplined learners brought to book, since late August up to now, over 30 secondary schools have set  their dormitories ablaze.Millions worth of properties have turned to ashes and the pain of building new structures imposed on parents and guardians. What may be the cause ?

The curious case of Muhoho Boys

Buruburu girls, Chavakali Boys and Kakamega Boys are some the schools that have reported shocking and depressing scenes of fire outbreaks.

In BuruBuru Girls, some students sustained injuries and had to be taken for treatment after jumping from burning buildings. On the other hand, Chavakali Boys students slaughtered the school’s three bulls as others reportedly milked neighbors cows during the fire outbreak and unrest.

Kakamega Boys was also on the news for the same. The scary fire outbreak led to the arrest of 16 students as the culprits as investigations continue. Currently, the three schools, among others, have been closed indefinitely for the same reason.

While all this was happening,  Muhoho Boys High School left many with mixed feelings after students urged the principal to release them to go home instead of setting fire on their dormitories. Additionally, they later explained to the principal that he would have to patiently wait for a message about resuming  from them and not the other way around.

Reasons for unrest

Sexual harassment, assault, corporal punishment and insecurity were the reasons raised by Buruburu girls over the rampage. According to the students, they had raised their pain points to the school head but no step had been taken.

2 Buruburu Girls High school students are to be arraigned over school fire
At least 59 students were injured and hospitalised in the incident which is one in a spate of school fires withing the last month.

But what about the  boy schools that have also gone on rampage? Are the claims the same?

The hawk’s eye

The rushed covering the syllabus and short-term breaks has seen many students struggle with their academics. With the Ministry of Education’s plan to return to the normal school calendar, teachers are pressurised to meet the ministry’s and school’s academic plan leading to devastated minds and poor socialisation among students.

Secondly, with the abolition of canes in schools, behind the corridors, some teachers are employing force by thoroughly caning students to imbibe knowledge and finish the syllabus on time. As a result, the poor students with less time to consume the content come up with such sordid plans.

Furthermore, due to Covid-19, games and sports were abolished in schools by the Ministry of Education thus no socialisation among students from different schools. This has made the students’ minds develop an antagonistic relationship with education.

Drugs and substance abuse are rightly also to blame. Some learners are abusing drugs in schools giving teachers rough time in instilling discipline in them. Who’ll rescue our schools? Teachers, parents, Ministry of Education or clergies?

There’s also administrative ignorance as is the case of  Buruburu girls. The girls raised the concern early but the school management ignored the claims raised concerning sexual assault and harassment. There was the need for the administration to rise to the occasion before things went south but their inaction led to students taking matters in their own hands.

As the arsonist behaviour continued, Education CS Prof. Magoha issued a short break for both primary and secondary schools as a way of taming fire outbreaks in schools. Moreover, he told parents and guardians that they  would incur the cost of rebuilding where children set government property ablaze. Will these finally stop the unrest?

To curb unrest in schools, I believe the Ministry of Education should address the above-mentioned causes. This will calm students and bring sanity.

The schools’ management should also listen to students cries and revive guidance and counselling in schools.

Concerning drug abuse, culprits should be brought to book and parents who may interfere with the running of institution(s) reported to the appropriate authorities.

Hosea Namachanja is a journalist, author, researcher and administrative expert based in Bungoma County, Kenya.

Featured image: breakingnews.co.ke

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