Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
Following the ongoing phenomenon on burning of schools that has led to closure of dozens of learning institutions in the country, Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) have called for review of disciplinary measures to help end the spiking act of arson in the country and coordination of stakeholders in addressing the matter.
“We need to review ways of maintaining discipline in our schools through deliberate coordinated efforts of correction, mentorship, counselling and effective chaplaincy ministry,” the bishops say in their statement released Thursday, November 11, adding that “parents should be more involved in the processes.”
The escalating arson and disruptive behavior by students have led to injury and loss of property and learning time which is “worrying,” reads part of the statement as the bishops disclose that the possible causes of these unrest are the “rising indiscipline caused by drug abuse and peer pressure coupled by other stresses exerted on learners by an over compressed and erratic academic calendar.”
They continue to share their observation saying, “We note that the current over-congestion in dormitories, classrooms and dining halls in schools which many times results in appalling conditions, has greatly constrained the learners.”
Based on the observations, Church leaders have called on the Ministry of Education, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) all stakeholders including churches who sponsor schools, “to have regular consultative fora to address emerging issues,” adding that the role of sponsors which include among others “instilling good values and morals and enhancing a conducive learning environment,…should be re-affirmed and enhanced.”
They emphasized further that the Catholic Church will continue to promote appropriate programs of counselling and spiritual support “which is critical for all institutions of learning.
As a way forward, the prelates suggested that Board of Management, Principals and Heads of schools be “empowered and supported to deal with the extreme indiscipline cases in schools,” and that “we all need to make a deliberate conspicuous and effective effort to effectively eliminate access of alcohol and drugs into schools.”
“Besides indiscipline, we need to address the issues of cultism and radicalization in schools as well as the challenges related to mental health,” the bishops narrated and appealed to pupils and students to raise their grievances in a constructive manner and to know that they are loved and cared for and that education is the key to their future.
Additionally, they ask all stakeholders “to listen to the students and pupils and seek to address their challenges.”
Speaking about the implementation of Contemporary Based Curriculum (CBC) a new education system in Kenya designed to emphasize the significance of developing skills, knowledge and also applying the competencies to real life situations, the bishops acknowledged that besides the benefits gained from the new system, “the government and other stakeholders should give more capacity and strategic support to teachers and parents and more financial and logistical resources be allocated to all schools.”
They added that parents need to be sensitized to understand their role in the new system as special needs schools are aided by the government and effective learning is enhanced through adequate pupil-teacher ratio.
The Church leaders ask Kenyans to keep the faith and hope alive despite the many challenges the country is facing including “political campaigns that have begun ahead of the legally stipulated time, electoral malpractices including rigging and manipulation of the forthcoming General Elections.”