Parents turn on heat over school strikes

July 24, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 24 – Kenyan parents now want the government to launch an independent probe into the recent upsurge in students’ unrest noting that the report presented by Education Minister Sam Ongeri in Parliament was shallow and non-inclusive.

Speaking to Capital News on Thursday the Kenya National Association of Parents Secretary General Musau Ndunda shifted blame from students to school managements and insisted that they needed to be investigated.

“That report is not accurate; somebody sitting in Nairobi and trying to speculate what may be the causes, I think that is a big mistake,” he said.

“Students have blamed principals because of high handedness, parents are blaming them because of mismanagement, let those people step aside and a probe committee set up.”

Ndunda criticised the decision by the Education Ministry to expel students found to have engaged in the recent students’ unrest.

“We don’t want to rush and condemn; expelling is not a solution. Can we ask ourselves what made the students do what they did? Secondly who is doing the suspension, the same people who are guilty?” he posed.

Education Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi instructed that all those found guilty of having participated in destruction of school property be expelled from the institutions. This followed a legal action directive issued by the Minister on the same.

Over 300 schools have gone on the rampage in the last one month with students expressing their displeasure by destroying school property worth millions of shillings.

In one instance on Saturday morning a student was killed and another badly injured in a fire that gutted down a dormitory at Upper Hill School.

In a bid to arrest the situation, the Education Minister banned use of mobile phones, TVs and DVDs in schools. He has however come under fire from Parliament and stakeholders alike for failing to address “real and obvious causes” of the chaos.

Nevertheless Makini School proprietor Mary Okello came to his defence, noting that the remedial measures he took were crucial in averting the crisis.

“If you see a fire burning first of all you pour water on it before you go out and find out who caused it. So, I think the government is trying to stop the spread as they address the long term issues,” she voiced.

Speaking to Capital News, the educationist however noted that all stakeholders needed to join hands in addressing the unrest.

Though the Education Minister had alluded that drugs and fear of mock exams were the key causes of the unrest, various stakeholders have singled out indiscipline and school mismanagement as the reasons behind the mayhem.

The heat has also been directed on parents for failing in their parental responsibility.

The head of the parents’ association admitted to this premise and noted that his organisation would be rolling out training programs for its members. He, in the meantime, urged the government to minimise the number of boarding schools so that parents can be in direct contact with their children.

“Parents in this country are using schools as dumping grounds for unwanted children at home; they are no longer role models for their children,” he opined.

During his weekly briefing Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua insisted that management training together with the safety and peace building manuals will be crucial in forestalling the strikes.

“This manual will include topics such as administration rules, code of conduct, inspection of schools, disciplinary measures, curriculum delivery and overall security of our schools,” he hinted.

The Spokesman in addition urged leaders to be good role models to the youth noting that the chaos is a replica of the messy society. He was, however, categorical that the government would not condone the wanton destruction of property.


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