Find cause of problem through listening, before punishing children for arson

By Ann Wambui

Being in a boarding school can impact a student either positively or negatively this depends on simply the environment of the school. This carries along the relationships with teachers, fellow students and non-teaching staff. How is this important?

The way a student relates with these mentioned people will impact on his/her attitude towards studying and actually liking boarding school. These people have the power to influence one’s decision on sticking at school.

Having gone to a boarding school since Form One, i can truly say that is where my life really began because after the four years, I took home with me many things that i would have surely not learned if i attended a day school.

As a teenage girl, there is a lot going on in your mind and body and you have to adjust to these changes including how to deal with boys, (I was in a mixed school so you can imagine) so if all this is not approached in the proper method, it could totally confuse a student on the way to approach personal encounters.

For those who were in boarding schools, you might have at least once had those days where something odd happens and upon reporting it to the administration you are either dismissed or given some silly explanation as to why that pressing issue is not that worth to look into.

Arson in schools have sort of become a trend over the past maybe four to five years in Kenya especially during the second term. I don’t know if it because it is the longest term of a year or what the reason is. The best people to consult for comment would be a high school student (which i will and post comment later).

According to Rapid Assessment of Arsons in Secondary Schools in Kenya, July-August  2016 report, more than 100 government schools were torched up and students blamed for it.

In this same report, it was found that schools had defied directive from then education cabinet secretary Jacob Kaimenyi to hire trained guards from registered security firms and instead opted for untrained villagers who in most cases were old men.

But even as these headlines become topics in our mouths, we also need to really sit down and look at the root and figure out why students are rebellious towards policies by school institutions.

The problem could be from home such that when students are on holidays, parents do not get to spend time with their children and engage them in rounded conversations.  Maybe poor communication skills by the administration that might arise because of bad relationships between the heads. It could also be that the authorities in school are actually neglecting essential matters and the way to be heard is to raise alarms so that investigations could be done, although, THIS IS NOT THE BETTER SOLUTION.

According to Daily Monitor Uganda, some schools have been facilitating professional guidance and counselling for their students to allow their children make informed decisions especially on topics like sex that have for long been taboo subjects in African households.

“We also hold general counselling sessions frequently where pupils raise issues affecting them and have them addressed,” says Head teacher at Buhinga Primary School,George Tinka Byamukama.

Counselling students is for sure of profitable help as it helps guide students into making informative decisions even on careers which should go hand in hand with the subjects they take. Students who choose subjects they are not well prepared for tend to later hate the subject as each unit comes with its own workload and this could be boring.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations through a statement and tweet recently sent a warning to all students associated with arson or damage of school properties.

“This is to warn every student from Primary School, Secondary School, College & University that the @DCI_Kenya is archiving & profiling every criminal act & consolidating charges that may be preferred to each & every student involved in any crime.#IFIKIEMASTUDE .

However much this seems to have been the right path to take by this body, it goes against children rights at both global and regional level which states that children records should be kept confidential. Children Act 2001 (186.g.) Guarantees to a child accused of an offence ……have his privacy fully respected at all the proceedings;….

As the government investigates the cases, they should also sit down with students and LISTEN to their issues. Through this, there will certainly be a way forward for both parties into finding solutions to this recurring habit.

The Ministry of Education should also liaise with partners in the Department of Children Services into coming up with long term solutions.


Photo courtesy of BBC

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