Schools have been ordered to ensure that learning is conducted between 8am and 3.30pm.
The Ministry of Education said those were the official class hours for all day public and private institutions between Monday and Friday.
Any arrangement where learners have classes before 8am or after 3.30pm is illegal, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has warned.
Amina said investigations had revealed that some schools forced students to attend classes from as early as 5.30am and leave long after 5pm. She said this was frustrating learners.
“Tight school programmes do not provide time for learners to think or play. School programmes should not make it hard for children to be children. Even as we maintain standards, we must not overstretch our children,” Amina told the National Assembly’s Education Committee on Monday.
Amina added that learners in rural schools were more exposed to danger when they are required to be in school earlier than usual.
“The Government’s insistence that schools observe the official operating hours for all day public or private institutions is part of the immediate measures to address student discipline and unrest in secondary schools,” said the CS.
Co-curricular activities are supposed to be conducted between 3.30pm and 4.45pm, according to the Basic Education Regulations, 2015.
Amina has directed all primary and secondary schools to adhere to the official operating hours for all day public or private institutions.
The CS spoke when she submitted a report of student discipline and unrest in secondary schools to the House committee. She urged the management of schools to hold regular barazas with students to allow learners to air their views and grievances to the administration without victimisation.
The CS said the ministry was working on a framework that will see the atmosphere in schools improved for learners.
She attributed student indiscipline to alcohol and drug abuse, and also to students’ frustration that the tight administration of national examinations had made it impossible for them to get access to the papers in advance.
She discounted corporal punishment as a viable form of disciplining students, saying it undermined the dignity and self-confidence of learners.
“Kenyan laws prohibit corporal punishment and amending the law to provide for it would not work as Kenya is a signatory to international conventions that outlaw corporal punishment,” she said.
She explained that the Basic Education Act, 2013 and the Children’s Act, 2001 prohibit corporal punishment.
“Under Article 36 of the Basic Education Act, 2013, no pupil shall be subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in any manner, whether physical or psychological,” Amina said.
She said the Government would strengthen guiding and counselling services in schools to help students resolve personal problems.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child also prohibit corporal punishment,” she said.
On school rules, discipline procedures for students and exclusion, Amina said a learner shall be deemed to be individually in-disciplined if they are involved in physical fights, bullying other learners, stealing and truancy.
“Other reasons for indiscipline are cheating in examinations, abusing teachers or other persons in authority, defiance of lawful instructions, drug trafficking or substance abuse or any other conduct categorised as indiscipline by the board of management,” the CS said.
She observed that learners shall be deemed to have participated in mass indiscipline 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.
The law provides that in cases of damage or destruction of property, the management of the institution shall invite a registered loss assessor to determine the value of the loss.
“The loss assessed shall be borne by the person found to bear the highest responsibility,” Amina said.