More schools closed as mayhem continues

July 23, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 23 – The wave of school unrest continued on Wednesday with Nairobi School and Sunshine Secondary School joining the list barely a day after the government imposed tough measures in a bid to curb the riots.

Managements closed the schools indefinitely after students’ boycotted classes.

Elsewhere, three students from Laverne Secondary School in Kasarani were charged with preparing to commit a felony.

The students who were charged alongside a school guard and a petrol station attendant were arrested on Tuesday night after they allegedly attempted to torch their school.

The suspects denied the charges and were released on a cash bail of Sh10, 000. Their case will be mentioned on August 6.

Nearly 100 students have been arraigned in courts in the last one week over their involvement in the destruction of school property.

Over 300 schools have been closed in the wave of student unrest that has engulfed the country since May.

Property worth millions of shillings has been destroyed as students set dormitories and other buildings on fire. One student was killed and another badly injured at the Upper Hill School when striking students set their dorm on fire Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Sam Ongeri’s measures to address the chaos elicited mixed reactions from stakeholders. Many noted that the Minister failed to outline clear-cut measures on the obvious perennial causes of strikes.

Ongeri on Tuesday banned the use of mobile phones and buses with TVs and DVDs besides ordering for legal action against those found to have participated in destruction of school property during the mayhem.

Making a ministerial statement in Parliament, Ongeri singled out drug abuse and the fear of mock exams for the riots.

However, many have insisted that indiscipline was largely to blame for the chaos and are now calling for more stringent measures to reinforce good behaviour.

Pressure continued to mount on lawmakers to amend the Children Act, which has been blamed for indiscipline among students.

Speaking to Capital News, Law Society of Kenya Chairman Okongo Omogeni described Ongeri’s measures as short term. He rooted for the re-introduction of caning as a way of maintaining discipline in schools.

"That should be the starting point, let’s hit the nail on the head. There is a crisis in our learning institutions. I think as a country we need to and ask ourselves when the rain started beating us," he said.

Elsewhere, the University of Nairobi Students Organisation Chairman Dan Mwangi said banning mobile phones would do little to address the problem.

He also called for the re-introduction of the cane.

"There is a dire need of a deep intellectual analysis of the riots as the problem is not caused by drugs or alcohol alone as alluded by the Minister," Mwangi asserted.

Most of those who talked to Capital News on the streets threw their weight behind the reintroduction of the cane.

"Spare the rod and spoil the child," one member of the public intimated.
Guidance and counselling and open dialogue with the children has also featured prominently in the suggestions levelled by the stakeholders.

Students have boycotted mock exams and expressed their displeasure with the way their schools are handling their welfare. Some of the issues raised include: bad food, difficult exams and unfair punishment.

Other complaints include lack of school canteens, special uniforms and meals for prefects and no entertainment.


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