Mid-term break not a solution to unrest in schools

By Ken Kagunda, Communications consultant Crime Si Poa, November 9th, 2021

School unrest needs a multi-sectoral strategic approach to give appropriate interventions that will avert future violence and  arson. 

In the last two weeks, we have witnessed a high number of schools go up in flames in what is suspected to be arson. 

What is worrying is that the fires that have destroyed millions of shillings worth of school property and endangered young lives are turning out to be copycat acts of arson by students. 

This week alone, boarding facilities in more than seven schools have been burnt down. 

There is a lot of speculation on what might be the underlying cause of these fires. Whereas some have suggested that the torching of schools is as the result of unruliness caused by abolishment of corporal punishment in schools without introduction of alternative ways of dealing with indiscipline, others have attributed the cases to poor parenting and role modeling. 

Others believe the unrest is related to exam fever, poor institutional leadership, imposition of stringent rules that deny  students adequate extra-curricular activities and stress related to the intense back-to-back programme adopted to cover time lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Proliferation of, and the accompanying abuse of, drugs among young people as well as internet addiction have also been identified as  possible causes of the unrest in schools.

In the wake of these incidents, the Ministry of Education has moved fast to revise the school calendar for the second term and allowed a four-day break, ostensibly to allow the students to “cool off”.  

Initially, the mid-term break was excluded in the term calendar. 

However, the question is whether the break will offer a lasting solution to the perennial problem of student unrest.   My hunch is that this knee-jerk reaction will only offer a short-term solution that might lead to bigger problems. For instance, this  edict could in future expose school heads to blackmail by students. 

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