In Kenya, cases of high school students burning down buildings in their schools are on the rise for the last one month. Over 120 schools have experienced arson cases and students sent home. There are cases of students demanding to go home without sitting for their end of term examinations.
If we are to curb the unrest in our schools and salvage the dignity left in our education system, we need to ask ourselves why and how the students are doing it.
Many people have tried addressing the why question and come up with theories that are part of the problem. Absentee parents are a factor. Our youth are being raised by house helps and the TV set. Parents are oblivious to the values being inculcated into their children. In the past, parents in the community would watch out for the neighbors’ children and punish errant ones. This is no longer the case.
Definition of success
For a long time, we have defined success in terms of high grades in class or having a lot of money. Values and character have taken the back seat. How do we motivate our children? How many innocent statements have we made as parents that imply the SUCCESS = A = WEALTH? Add to it the stringent expectations we have of our kids when they go to school and the narrative is hard to change.
Many schools that have been victims of arson have seen their dormitories torched in the evening or at night. There have been no fatal causalities. That leads me to believe that all this is well planned in collaboration with people with authority. Figuring out how they manage to burn out a dormitory without any fatality is the key to finding out why they are burning their schools in the first place.
By Winnie Nanjala