PARALYSED LEARNING

302 students arrested, 41 facing charges over fires — Report

The country witnessed 126 cases of school unrests between January to November

In Summary
  • A number of schools have been forced to halt the school calendar and send learners home.
  • The recent being Jamhuri High School in Nairobi which was closed early this week after fired razed a dormitory housing 300 students.
Education CS George Magoha.
SCHOOL FIRES: Education CS George Magoha.
Image: FILE

Some 302 students have been arrested in connection with the recent school fires, ministry records indicate.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the country witnessed 126 cases of school unrests between January to November 11.

In a statement tabled before the National Assembly by Education Committee chairperson Florence Mutua, the government has so far taken to court 41 suspects who are being processed for various charges.

Magoha’s report was in response to a statement sought by nominated MP Wilson Sossion who demanded to know the steps the government has taken regarding the schools unrest.

In the recent months, learning has been paralysed in a number of schools following school fires that target dormitories and school property.

A number of schools have been forced to halt the school calendar and send learners home.

The recent being Jamhuri High School in Nairobi which was closed early this week after fired razed a dormitory housing 300 students.

Maranda High, Kakamega High, Mwala Girls, Nyamira Boys and Nambale High have also been closed and students sent home after similar fire incidents in the past week.

To restore sanity in schools and maintain discipline among students, the ministry has come up with a number of interventions to ensure safety of the learners and school property.

“Working in concert with other stakeholders the ministry will fast track the court cases and secure convictions of all cases involving incitement and destruction of property,” Magoha said.

The ministry is also calling for a sober re-look into the place of boarding schools going into the future as a way of curbing the menace.

The ministry observed that congested school calendar, school administration style and reduced extra curriculum activities are some of the reasons behind the recent school unrests.

Also listed as possible causes is the congestion in classes/dormitories, drug and substance abuse in schools, peer pressure and inadequate guidance and counselling services in most learning institutions.

According to the report tabled by Education Committee chairperson Florence Mutua, poor parenting where most parents have abrogated their duties to the teachers are also to blame for the fires.

“There is an element of poor role modelling in some children due to parental negligence and absconding of this social duty on the assumption that it is being handled by the teacher,” Magoha said in the report.

“Many students have experienced gaps in role modelling and draw support from media and peers. Children are crying out for someone to guide them. The father figure is absent in certain instances. This might explain why over 70 per cent of unrests are reported from boy’s schools.”

Magoha appears to advocate for reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools. He blamed teacher’s inability to discipline children as another possible factor fuelling misconduct in the learning institutions.

“The law seems to protect the child even in criminal behaviour thereby making teachers hesitant to carry out disciplinary measures,” he said in the statement.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)