In a period of close to two weeks, quite a number of secondary schools have witnessed students going on rampage and destroying property including dormitories and other valuable property in the affected schools. Former Western province is the most affected especially Bungoma County where close to 10 schools including Chesamisi High school, St. Luke’s Kimilili Boys, Bukembe Boys, Bungoma High school, Kabula Boys, Namwela Boys among others have experienced losses worth millions of shillings in the hands of rowdy students.
However, as the government through relevant authorities including the ministry of education are still investigating the cases to establish the underlying reasons as to why the trend of burning schools is increasing and spreading like forest fire, a number of stakeholders are now coming up with proposals which they think can help solve such incidents permanently.
Kenya National Union of Teachers – KNUT and its sister union the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers – KUPPET have come out categorically to propose that it is now time for boarding schools to be abolished in the country.
The Unions through their national officials claim that the ongoing arson in schools by the students is a clear indication that the students no longer want to stay in school.
“By the students burning dormitories and leaving classrooms and libraries and other important infrastructure in school is a clear indication and message that they are giving out that they do not need to continue staying in school any longer,” said Wilson Sossion the secretary general KNUT.
Sossion further noted that boarding schools in this country are just a burden and extra cost to parents for no good reason, adding that it has become a business venture for some people as parents suffer to sustain their children in such schools.
He noted that education is the same in all schools whether boarding or day schools if all of them have the requisite infrastructure and human resource.
“Boarding schools have just become business ventures for some people who just want to exploit parents yet the children can still come from home and go back home every day but still get quality education if we can ensure that each school in each region is built according to required standards,” added Sossion.
KUPPET chairman Omboko Milemba also shared similar sentiments saying that the boarding schools should start being phased out progressively through recommendations by a taskforce as to how the process should be effected.
“Boarding schools have no future in this country and therefore it is high time we start phasing them out without interfering with the education structure because there isn’t much value that such schools add to the education of our children because the only difference is that they only have places for the students to sleep,” said Milemba in his office.
Milemba and Sossion agree that the move will also enable parents to play their role of nurturing and giving values to their children unlike at the moment whereby parents have left everything to the teachers as far as growth of their children is concerned. They also added that boarding schools were a creation of colonialists when they wanted to secure children from some cultures including looking after cattle or undergoing female genital mutilation – FGM among other practices that hindered their pursuing of education but such vices have now come to pass and parents can now stay with their children at home as they continue attending school.
Opposed to return of the cane
However, despite proposing the abolishing of boarding schools, the two officials who spoke separately to us declined to consent the return of caning in schools saying that the move was agreed internationally hence as a country we can’t go back. “As teachers we are not ready to carry canes in schools to punish children because we are now past that stage and it was an international convention that as a country we signed at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO,” said the KNUT secretary general.
Omboko on his part added that it is retrogressive to start reintroducing the cane again in the schools after it was abolished and just like the cane, the boarding schools will also go the same way. Many stakeholders, especially parents have been of the opinion that the ongoing unrest in schools is as a result of lack of discipline among the students after the cane was abolished.