New tough rules on security in schools
The Ministry of Education yesterday directed Boards of Management (BOM) to urgently convene meetings to discuss students’ discipline in schools.
Education Principal Secretary Dr Julius Jwan has directed that the boards share resolutions of their meeting with the County Education Board for necessary action.
“The Government is concerned about the increasing cases of unrest and arson witnessed in a number of schools in the country, which have led to wanton destruction of property,” said Jwan, in a circular to Regional Directors of Education (RDE) and County Directors of Education (CDE).
He insisted that the Ministry will not meet the cost of reconstructing destroyed school property arising from acts of arson.
The RDEs and CDEs have also been directed to strictly comply with the Basic Education Regulations, 2015, which the PS said give clear guidance on how schools should handle cases of mass indiscipline, as part of enhancing security and guarantee safety of learners in schools.
Article 33 of the regulations says learners will be deemed to have participated in mass indiscipline in the institution if they jointly take part in unlawful demonstration, boycott of classes or meals, destruction of school property or invasion of other institutions, shopping centres or homesteads.
“If the head of institution notices any of the activities described among the students, which in his or her opinion may result in the disruption of general activities in the institution, he or she may close the institution and notify CDE accordingly within 24 hours after such closure,” states the regulations.
At the same time, Jwan has urged the RDEs and CDEs to ensure that all students involved in any form of indiscipline are not allowed to transfer to any other school.
“No school should admit a student who has not been released formally by the previous school,” said the PS.
BOMs are also expected to ensure adequate and enhanced security around dormitories on a 24-hour basis, in addition to working closely with officers from the Interior ministry to ensure adequate security is provided in schools.
“BOMs should work with the local National Government administrators to ensure relevant stakeholders are engaged and are able to provide necessary support that can ensure early detection of danger to schools,” Jwan directed.
The PS has also asked schools to open up accessible channels of communication for adequate and seamless engagement with learners including mounting a proper mechanism for addressing grievances arising from students.
This came as National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) called for a national stakeholders’ forum to discuss the upsurge in cases of indiscipline in schools.
NCCK Nyanza region chairman Prof David Kodia said the forum is necessary to come up with a homegrown solutions to the menace, which has seen over 40 schools across the country closed following school fires.
He said there was urgent need to address gaps in the education system to seal loopholes blamed for the unrest.
“We take exception to our education policy that appears to put more premium on the right of the child than the right of the parent or teacher to instill discipline,” he said.
“When children are made to believe that their right to education is also equal to their right to do what they desire then we are officially condoning a culture of impunity,” he added.
He said the national stakeholders’ forum must look into the education policy to incorporate a systematic and moral aspect of discipline to reverse the tide.
The current system, he said, lacks a clear strategy on discipline with teachers’ hands on the matter fully tied.
Elsewhere, two students have been hospitalised following another fire outbreak at Ringa Boys High School in Rachuonyo East sub-county yesterday. The students were rushed to hospital after inhaling smoke following a fire from one of the school’s dormitories.
Confirming the incident, Homa Bay County Commissioner Moses Lilan said the fire started at around 5am in one of the dormitories housing 350 students.
“At the time of the incident, 325 students were present, luckily everyone has been accounted for and are safe except for the two students who were rushed to Hawi Family Hospital in Oyugis town for treatment but are currently in a stable condition,” he said.
He reiterated that stern action will be taken against anyone found liable, whether a student or anyone else in the school.
On Monday, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha issued a stern warning to school fire arsonists saying their actions will not only be updated in their profiles but also haunt them during and after school life.
He said there is no close linkage between Covid-19 and school fires since statistics show that such incidents existed even before the pandemic.
The CS warned that national examination will not be postponed adding that the curriculum calendar will be followed to the letter.
“Anybody planning to burn a building, take note that when you are caught you are not going to transfer to any public school in this country. You will go back and your parents pay for the damage you caused. Secondly, it will remain in your record such that when you come looking for a job later in life, it will haunt you,” he charged.