NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 14 – Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has dismissed claims that the increased arson cases in schools are due to extension of term dates, and instead attributed the cases to poor management.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the Education CS indicated that many head teachers in the affected schools lacked the skills to deal with conflict resolution and this coupled with infighting within the administration leads to unrest.
He also explained that many of the students who are involved in the burning of schools are transfer students who have been implicated a number of times.
“Over 99 percent of the schools that are involved in unrest are not national schools which have got intense integration where you have students from across the country. These are county and extra-county schools where the population is predominantly from one particular region,” he stated.
“Over 90 percent of schools involved in arson are boys schools. About 45 percent of the cases of arson that are reported are repeat cases.”
Matiang’i further indicated that cases of arson were prevalent even before he took over the Education Ministry and emphasised the need for an open minded approach in dealing with the vice.
“Some schools were burnt last year, they were burnt the year before and so on. In some cases, the students who were involved were transfer students who had burnt a school before and transferred to a different school,” he said.
“In Stephjoy last year where students were burnt, the perpetrators had transferred from five schools so as a people who have a serious sector, we need to look at the data we have and make a decision.”
He said that the ministry is set to embark on an exercise to empower head teachers to take the initiative in dealing with emerging cases of school unrests.
“Now we are at the tail end of implementing the two reports that are remaining namely looking at the governance of some of our institutions as we move forward and seeing whether we need to build the capacity of some of the head teachers we have around and enhancing our ground game,” he said.
Teachers had stepped up pressure on Matiang’i to review the contested new term dates, which have been cited as the major cause of the wave of student unrest in secondary schools across Kenya.
The Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association also absolved its members from blame for school unrest during a meeting with education officials in Nairobi.
The Kenya National Union of teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) have also insisted that the unrest is as a result of tension caused by the abrupt changes in the school calendar.
Even though they acknowledged that there were cases of student unrest last year, they acknowledged that the magnitude was not as big as the one witnessed in the last two months.