Spate of school unrest continues

July 22, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 21 – Students at Lenana, Jamhuri and St Thomas Aquinas added their schools to the growing list of secondary institutions on strike Monday, a day after Education Minister warned that such action would not be tolerated.

Lenana boys started their protests in the morning, joining over 300 schools in the country where student unrest has broken out.

Form four students however refused to join their colleagues in lower classes in the protests and proceeded to sit for their mock examinations.

But some Form one and two students claimed that they had been told to strike by their form four seniors and threatened of dire consequences if they failed to do so.

After their exams, the seniors were to search for any student who did not join in the protests and punish them.

Jamhuri High School form four students were sent home after they refused to sit for the mock examinations.

“Police came to chase the students from the school compound. I don’t know what they want but I think they are striking just because they have seen others doing the same,” said a student interviewed by Capital News.

Once out of the school compound the students preceded to neighbouring Parklands Boys High School where they disrupted learning at the institution.

Parklands Boys Board Chairman Aluda Essendi told Capital News the students from Jamhuri also interrupted form four students who were sitting mock exams.

Essendi said all students had to be sent home following the incident.

“About 200 boys invaded the school but we called in the police who managed to disperse them. They were no major damages apart from a few broken windows at the dinning hall,” he narrated.

“I think they were trying to disrupt the exams going on at the school.”

Form four students were expected to return on Tuesday to continue with their exams.

On Sunday night, at St Thomas Aquinas, students burnt down a dormitory destroying property estimated to be worth over Sh1 million.

The school, based in Nairobi’s Makadara estate, was closed indefinitely.

School Principal George Muthee told reporters “I have called for an urgent meeting of the schools board. We will be meeting the parents after the meeting to discuss what next but for now the students stay at home.”

And in Kisumu, students from Otieno Oyoo secondary school went on strike paralyzing transport along the Kisumu-Nairobi highway.

Kisumu police boss Simon Kiragu said the students argued that they had not completed their second term syllabus and wanted more time to study for the district mock exams.

Police had to lob teargas canisters to disperse the unruly students who damaged classes, the school laboratory and attempted to break into the principal’s office to confisticate exams papers.

The protests came as the Government woke up to the reality of just how bad the student riots were.

Education Minister Sam Ongeri, who is supposed to give a ministerial statement in Parliament on Wednesday, chaired a crisis meeting Sunday with key players in the sector.

During the meeting, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti blamed the protests on drug abuse.

But the National Coordinator for the State-run Anti-Drug campaign told Capital News that drugs alone were not to blame.

National Agency for Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADA) Board Chairman Dr Frank Njenga said the cause of the unrest could be traced to factors at home, in schools and the community.

“The structure of our society in the last year has been one that has created an environment in which this precise problem was ready to explode,” he said.

“We as parents have allowed our children to view dispute resolution as something that occurs outside the rule book,” Dr Njenga concluded. 


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