SANTUARY

MWANGI: Keep bars away from schools

Bars, with their allure of alcohol and associated social activities, should not be located near schools.

In Summary

• The educational environment should be a sanctuary, a place where young minds are nurtured and potential is cultivated.

• It's where students engage in learning, build relationships, and prepare for their futures.

Without applying statistics and principles of behaviour, it outright feels off when an alcohol dispensing outlet is located next to or near a learning institution.

To make matters worse, one that caters to children under the age of eighteen. This kind of picture doesn’t need any scientific research to bring out the anticipated effects of the outlet on children.

Proximity certainly matters when it comes to the placement of certain establishments within a community, especially bars and schools. The distance between them is significant. Bars, with their allure of alcohol and associated social activities, should not be located near schools.

Kenya’s Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2010, famously referred to as the Mututho Law, is clear on the location of these outlets. Article 12 (1) (c) of the statute provides that in an application for licences, the premises in respect of which the application is made are located at least 300 metres from any nursery, primary, secondary or other learning institutions for persons under the age of eighteen.

This isn't just a matter of convenience or urban planning; it's a critical consideration for the well-being and safety of our youth, as it shapes their present and future paths.

The educational environment should be a sanctuary, a place where young minds are nurtured and potential is cultivated. It's where students engage in learning, build relationships, and prepare for their futures.

Introducing bars into the vicinity disrupts this sanctity, injecting elements that oppose the values and goals of education. First and foremost, the presence of bars near schools exposes students to potentially harmful influences.

In Kenya currently and backed by the latest report on the Status of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the country released in May Last year by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the initiation age for alcohol is seven years. This just shows how grave the matter is if not addressed urgently, and this early.

Alcohol consumption, especially by minors, poses serious health risks and impairs judgment, leading to risky behaviours and compromised decision-making.

Placing bars near schools increases the chances of students being exposed to alcohol-related activities, whether through peer pressure, curiosity or easy access. This exposure not only undermines the efforts of educators and parents to promote responsible behaviour but also jeopardizes the safety and well-being of students.

Moreover, the proximity of bars to schools can have detrimental effects on academic performance and overall student well-being. Alcohol consumption, especially when excessive or frequent, interferes with cognitive function, memory retention and concentration — essential components of academic success.

Students who are exposed to environments where alcohol is readily available may face distractions that hinder their ability to focus on their studies and reach their full potential.

Additionally, the presence of bars may contribute to an atmosphere of unrest or insecurity, further disrupting the learning environment and detracting from the overall educational experience.

Beyond its immediate impact on students, the presence of bars near schools can have broader social implications for the surrounding community.

Schools serve as pillars of neighbourhoods, influencing property values, community cohesion and perceptions of safety. The introduction of bars into these environments can erode the sense of community and contribute to negative perceptions of the area.

Families might be deterred from living close to schools due to concerns about the potential influence of nearby bars on their children. This can lead to a decline in community engagement and investment, compromising the vitality and resilience of the neighbourhood as a whole.

Furthermore, having bars near schools raises concerns about the safety of students, especially during school hours and extracurricular activities. Alcohol-related incidents, such as violence, accidents and disturbances, can spill over into school grounds, jeopardising the safety and security of students, staff and visitors.

Even outside of school hours, having bars near schools may attract individuals whose behaviour poses a risk to the well-being of students, creating an environment of apprehension and unease. Given these considerations, it is clear that bars should not be located near schools.

Communities should prioritise creating supportive and nurturing environments that empower students to thrive and reach their full potential. By keeping bars at a distance from schools, we can uphold the values of education, safeguard the welfare of our youth and foster vibrant, resilient communities for generations to come.

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