Abdication of parental responsibilities and drug abuse are fuelling unrest in secondary schools.
A study by the United States International University-Africa (USIU) says the Ministry of Education’s enactment of rules without consulting all stakeholders, lack of communication and schools operating without a code of conduct for students are also a major contributing factor to chaos in schools.
The study conducted in six counties shows most teachers perceive that the modern parent is unavailable to assist in proper upbringing, leaving the responsibility to them.
The research conducted in Uasin Gishu, Embu, Nakuru, Kisii, Nyamira and Kericho notes that “missing parents” have led to students copying unwanted behaviours from their peers and colleagues.
Children used to freedom in urban areas are likely to rebel when they join secondary schools that are managed by older generation teachers because of the traditional virtues of self-discipline and respect for authority they are required to adhere to.
The team headed by Prof Morangi Nyambegera recommends that the government educates parents and other stakeholders on the need to participate in upbringing of children in a more responsible way with virtues that uphold discipline.
“It is important for parents to remember that words such as hello, please, you are welcome, I am sorry, and thank you, begin to be learned at home.
“Values of honesty, integrity and showing respect to teachers and the elderly are taught by parents while teachers only supplement what the child has already learnt at home,” reads the report.
Like in some developed countries, the report recommends that the government puts in place departments to protect children and deal with parents who abdicate their responsibility in the upbringing of their children.
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Prof Nyambegera told the Saturday Standard the study was commissioned by the university after a financial loss estimated at Sh312 million when 116 schools were burned to the ground, over 6,000 students sent home and more than 150 charged in courts over arson attacks in 2016.
Within six months of the 2007-08 post-election violence, statistics of school burnings show Rift Valley had 55 cases, Central 66, Eastern 39, and Coast 15, totalling to 175 schools, with 6,200 students sent home.
In the survey that sampled five principals per county, 10 teachers per school and non-teaching staff, use of drugs such as bhang and miraa by students is blamed for their unlawful behaviours.
The study recommends that it should be mandatory for parents and guardians to participate in the fight against drugs by supporting counselling and rehabilitation programmes instituted by the government to help drug abusing students.
“To supplement such efforts, a comprehensive curriculum on substance abuse should be introduced in secondary schools to neutralise the influence of peer pressure and shape positive behaviour,” adds the report.
Nyambegera says the Ministry of Education should introduce guidance and counselling departments headed by specialised counsellors and a system able to unearth students abusing drugs.
Currently, counselling in most schools is done by teachers who have no training.