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Govt mulls abolishing boarding schools over arson – Kipsang

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang says this will stem the rising cases of unrest in schools, in the wake of massive destruction after more than 30 schools were torched countrywide in the past two weeks/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 12 – The Education Ministry is mulling the abolition of boarding schools in the country due to increased arson cases.

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said this will stem the rising cases of unrest in schools, in the wake of massive destruction after more than 30 schools were torched countrywide in the past two weeks.

Kipsang submitted the proposal on Thursday when he appeared before the National Assembly Education Committee where said a total of 142 students had been arrested over causing mayhem in schools so far.

According to Kipsang, many of those arrested are mainly from 39 schools across the country that have been hit by fire incidents.

Nyanza and Western are the worst hit in the latest wave of violence, that was also witnessed two years ago when Fred Matiangi was Education Cabinet Secretary.

He told the Julius Melly (Tinderet)-led committee that the notion to have school going children operate from home is viable and that other countries are doing it.

“The direction that we need to go is a day school system where students operate from home. The ministry would want to increase opportunities in day schooling so that parents can have an opportunity of engaging their children and making sure that the children are properly taken care of,” he said.

The PS cited schools such as Strathmore High School and Kianda School whose students are day scholars contending that the same may be replicated in other schools across the country.

“The two are top schools and we have never had so much challenges because parents have an opportunity to contribute to the discipline of their children. Going forward that is the direction that we are going to adopt. Day schooling is the future that will be able to help us as a country to handle this issue of arson,” he said.

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Kipsang was forthright that students who engage in destruction of school property are criminals who hide behind uniforms and vowed that the ministry will be tough on them.

He told members that the move by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to have the records of such rogue students captured in their certificate of good conduct when they seek one is prompt as it would aid in restraining them from engaging in arson.

“Students need to know that actions have consequences,” he said.

At the same time Kipsang lashed out at those opposed to the transfer of head teachers while reiterating that the policy will continue to be implemented despite opposition.

“Teachers should be allowed to work anywhere in the country. Other civil servants are scattered all over but when it comes to teachers I do not know why there is always a problem,” he said.

Bomachoge Borabu MP Zadoc Ogutu cautioned that the issue of the transfer of school heads should not be politicized but urged the teachers’ employer, TSC to engage stakeholders prior to effecting the deployments.

Kipsang said the ministry had sufficient reasons to believe that some teachers were colliding with students to torch schools.

“We cannot be dictated by students that the transfer of heads is a bad thing. In fact, some teachers and students are deliberately working together in the burning of schools,” he said.

He regretted that some cases of school unrest are done by students just for sheer fun.

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“Other students copycat what others are doing and I remember in one particular school during a fact-finding mission the students told us that they burnt their dormitory because another school had done it,” he said.

On his part, Melly ruled out any possible linkage between the policy and the cases of arson.

“School management issues are the only reason I personally believe why students would go on rampage and cause such destruction in their schools,” he said.

PS Kipsang will again appear next week on Tuesday before the committee to issue a more comprehensive report on the wave of school unrest in the country.

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