The ugly scourge of rioting and destruction of property is currently ravaging Kenyans schools and many are lost as to the causes and ways within which the same can be contained.
Kenya is a unique country in the sense that merit plays little role when it comes to appointment to public office and currently, the people charged with the responsibility of running public schools are obviously out of their depths when it comes to the riots.
Striking is not new phenomenon in Kenyan learning institutions and it is a wonder that this vice has not been contained even as it visits our schools year in year out.
Perhaps it points towards a deficiency of leadership. Striking is curiously unique to Kenya. There’s little news of student disturbance in neighbouring countries.
Education, formally defined is the process by which knowledge of a society is passed on to the young through institutions of learning .
It has, however, a wider connotation. Education is without doubt the means by which the young are prepared for adult life. The young and the not so young are equipped to play their part in the society through education. A father teaches a son to carry on the family mantle, the catch being that the entire hopes and aspirations of the family, somehow, in the not so distant future, rests in the shoulders of the son, after imbibing knowledge and instructions from the father.
The Kenyan system is a jumble. Education has been commercialized, if not industrialized. Millions of graduates are churned out of our learning institutions as though they’re items rolling out of an industrial line.
It is a copy paste system taken block and stock from the colonialists. Curriculum designers take little cognisance of the unique African culture when it comes to designing the learning tools and objectives.
Education must factor into consideration the immediate needs of the society. Through education, important memes are passed down either formally or by oral tradition.
The Kenyan system, first of all, suffers a serious intellectual shortfall. The education system is not appreciated as a very important tool towards societal perpetuation.
It has not managed to attract the cream of the top brains as the best of our children are shepherded to more lucrative courses leaving education with the “rejects”
Teaching is a course of last resort, left the desperate, those who have not met the cut. That’s where the problems begin. The teaching force should attract the best brains and this can only be achieved by using such methods as improving the terms of service for example. A demoralized teacher is a danger to the society.
The learning environment has been militarised right from the ministry. The education officials breath arrogantly down the necks of teachers, belittling them day in day out. Prospects for pecuniary growth have deteriorated under the Uhuru government.
A teacher working under this kind of environment is not incentivised enough to make learning an enjoyable experience to the learner. Conflict between the ministry and the teacher soon finds its way down to the children.
Conflict is a societal phenomenon which occurs when an individual or a group feels that their interests are suppressed of stifled by another person or group.
There’s conflict in the Kenyan society. Politicians are squabbling, always trying to out do each other in the game if hurling expletives.
Families have broken down and there are no longer good role models to mentor the young. Those who go for shortcuts always seem to make it and honesty pays little dividend in the Kenyan society today.
Exam malpractices become a norm in such an environment and often times the teachers themselves assist the children in stealing the exams. This is he net result of failing to attract good brains to fill the teaching slots.
When loopholes to stealing exams are suddenly plugged, panic sets in and anger is soon vented. Destruction of school property is a convenient excuse brought in advance by a student who is less confident about passing exams. Psychologists call that projection.
The children are also exposed to a variety of literature which is unhelpful. The video industry has seriously proliferated and you will find students crowding at pirate shops writing videos which borders on extreme hard core pornography. Most children would just wish to disrupt learning and go back home, where they watch the movies day in day out. To them home is better than school. At home, they can do whatever they want! Schools appear to be small prisons.
In the videos, there’s substance abuse, a thing they also see in their conflicted families. Add that to general indiscipline, a dangerous cocktail comes out.
The ministry is also not helping matters by churning out half baked policy after policy. Look at the policy of delocalization for example.
Teachers whose competencies are questionable are transfered to schools outside their localities where they are soon confronted with all manner of challenges. Delocolization is good in spirit but execution needs to be extremely gradual.
In almost all the schools facing riots in the current outbreak, there are new principals. These new guys are strangers to the pupils and in vain attempts to stamp their authority, they impose sudden changes in their new stations and this is always met with instant resistance.
Man fears change as it interferes with his comfort zone. Changes bring uncertainty and uncertainty brews strife.
Delocolization should have targeted non administrative staff. Those at the apex should have been spared for stability and continuity. Delocalized teachers should also undergo a crash training on matters pertaining to sensibilities of host communities. Kenya does not have a homogenous culture and conflicts are bound to occur when cultures clash.
The issue of striking will continue to recur until the government wakes up to the realization that teaching deserves the best in order to attract the best. The best will always be situationally aware and will always improvise to respond to emerging situations.
Human beings cannot be handled with extreme rigidity and the learning environment must not only be friendly to learners but also be populated with admirable role models capable of mentoring children, ensuring they understand they are the leaders of tomorrow.