POINTLESS REFORMS

Longer second term dates causing unrest in schools - MPs

School calendar was changed in May 2017 to curb cheating in national examinations

In Summary

• Lawmakers cite 'tenderpreneurs' as one of the triggers of unrest in schools.

• Lack of guidance and counseling as well as exam panic also spur chaotic scenes.

Tinderet MP Julius Melly, JAP activist Philemon Bureti and DPPS deputy director Emmanuel Talam at Chebarus Secondary School in Tinderet.
Tinderet MP Julius Melly, JAP activist Philemon Bureti and DPPS deputy director Emmanuel Talam at Chebarus Secondary School in Tinderet.

MPs have poked holes on the Education ministry’s directive which created a longer second term in the schools’ calendar saying it is the cause of rampant student unrest.

Coupled with other related reasons, the Education committee held that the longer duration has exposed students to more workload, placing undue pressure on the learners.

Students stay in schools for 14 weeks in the first term and 15 in the second term.

The Committee on Education chaired by Tinderet MP Julius Melly revealed this in its report on a review of the causes of students’ unrest in 2018.

 
 

The lawmakers said most second terms have been characterized by delays in release of funds to support Free Secondary Day Education, yet there are many activities.

Melly’s team held that the delays lead to failure by management to provide services and payment of salaries to the non-teaching staff and teachers hired by boards of management.

“Many of the affected workers end up inciting students to strike or fail to deliver hence trigger unrest,” the report reads in part.

Teachers granted tenders in schools were also cited as a possible cause of unrest by them spurring a resistance in the event they feel boxed out by unfair competition.

MPs also took issue with principals who reportedly collude with education officers to swindle money raised from the hiring of premises, school buses, farms, among other income sources.

“There should be a clear policy on creation and utilization of monies raised from the income-generating activities,” the report reads.

In May 2017, then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i reorganized the school calendar in far-reaching changes to curb exam cheating.

 
 

The CS, currently in-charge of Interior, at that time, banned all social activities in third term namely prayer days, visiting days, half-term breaks, PTA AGMs as well as prize-giving ceremonies.

MPs have, therefore, recommended that parents be involved in determining school term dates.

“The Ministry should provide more funds to enable schools to facilitate a conducive environment for learners during the longer term,” the committee said.

MPs Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri), Malulu Injendi (Malava), Geoffrey Odanga (Matayos), Pamela Ochieng (Migori), Wilson Sossion (Nominated), Eve Obara (Kabondo Kasipul), Zadoc Ogutu (Bomachoge Borabu), Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma), Eric Muchangi (Runyenjes), Jackson Lekumontare (Samburu East) are members.

Others are Jerusha Momanyi (Nyamira), John Oroo (Bonchari), Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi), Lilian Cheptoo (West Pokot), Omboko Milemba (Emuhaya), Peter Lochakapong (Sigor), and Wilson Kogo (Chesumei).  

Last year, schools experienced tumultuous events which led tothe disruption of learning in about 107 institutions.

This, however, was lower than in 2017 when there were 123 cases and 2016 when 483 schools were affected by arson, walk-outs, sit-ins, and breakages.

Eastern region reported the highest number of cases followed by Rift Valley and Nyanza. Northeastern had no case of disruption whereas Central, Coast, Nairobi, and Western had very less than 10 cases.

MPs further cited examination stress and the ‘lawful expectation or promise of exam leakage as well as limited guidance and counseling.

The team also spotlighted an alarming increase in drug abuse and different religious ideologies which are in conflict with the school administration set up.

They suggested that chiefs and county commissioners be incorporated in the board of management of schools through an amendment to the Basic Education Act, 2013.

Politicians have also been apportioned the blame amid findings that the strategies they use to resolve disputes are learned and implemented in schools.

The society at large has also been blamed for being too permissive and for applying a laissez-faire approach when dealing with misconduct among school children.

Melly and his colleagues, therefore, want the government to set aside funds for guidance and counseling programs in schools.

“The Ministry should allocate full-time professional counselors to all schools. Where possible, parents association should train local representatives,” the report reads.

“The department should be able to deal with issues ranging from stress, religious conflicts, low self-esteem, addictions, broken families, and poor academic grades,” the legislators said.

MPs further warned that teachers who deal with students with a heavy hand are causing rebellion and misconduct among learners.

In their call for modest discipline, the lawmakers said education officers should equally enforce policies and guidelines on discipline.

Among other proposals was for the NIS to gather security intelligence information from schools on student activities.

The legislators also asked teachers to consider clearing the syllabus within the stipulated time to build confidence among learners.

(Edited by P. Wanambisi)


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