Step up efforts to mould learners

Of late, safety and security fears of learners in school have raised concern among many parents and school administrators.

There are also concerns about social behaviours that learners are exposed to and habits that are pick up in school. Learners today are increasingly exposed to drug abuse, gayism, lesbianism, substance abuse, unprotected sex and prostitution.

These are the depths to which indiscipline and lack of control - parental and societal - has sunk in learning institutions in Kenya.

Schools no longer provide that safe second-home setting where parents and guardians knew their children were safe; being moulded into useful members of society. Consequently, parents must take a keen interest in their school-going children to ascertain whether there are any behavioural changes and take corrective measures as early as possible.

Not only has radicalisation found fertile ground in learning institutions, incidents where university students especially, indulge in prostitution and sexual escapes that turn fatal, is worrying. Only last week, there was a reported case of a student being knifed to death by a lover after they fell out.

It is morally wrong for students to forget what took them to school in the first place and indulge in behaviours that only bring pain and suffering to those who have sacrificed to allow them realise their goals in life. We can only imagine the pain and trauma parents of the murdered students and others go through.

But even as we blame students for indiscipline in schools, cases where teachers entrusted with the responsibility of moulding students turn on them, sexually harassing or even raping minors, are equally on the increase.

Recently, the Teachers Service Commission sought to put a stop to this vice by sacking and blacklisting more than 120 teachers certified as paedophiles. These efforts must be stepped up to protect children from those seeking to spoil their future and ruin their lives.

It suffices to say that today’s youngster lacks enough parental guidance as parents spend more time chasing careers and a livelihood than bringing up responsible children.

That has created a lacuna that even the teacher whom parents expect to fill the void has failed to rise up to the challenge. Left to their own devices, these youngsters are increasingly becoming a danger to themselves and society at large. When they drop out of school because of addiction to drugs or any other vice, the only thing that awaits them is a life in crime.

In schools, students have turned against fellow students; sodomising others, beating and even causing the death of fellow students in circumstances that are often classified as ‘unknown’. Poor leadership, lack of guidance and wanting interpersonal skills are responsible for this.

Even as we agonise at what ails our schools and children, it is important to acknowledge where as parents, society or institutions we went wrong and endeavour to institute corrective measures. Lack of discipline in school is simply an extension of indiscipline from the home. Parents must take up their duties seriously and remember discipline starts with them.

Our traditional set-ups made the child a responsibility of the society. This aspect that greatly inspired respect and discipline has been abandoned in preference for modernity which, ironically, is increasingly isolating individuals. It is no longer possible for someone to correct a child who is not biologically theirs without risking ending up in court.

Within schools themselves, there is too much laxity that leaves the student enough time and space to indulge in mischief. Gone are the days when prefects wielded equal power to a teacher in enforcing discipline.

Periodic checks on student boxes are no longer carried out in many schools and perhaps we don’t even have discipline masters. Together, we must enforce discipline on youngsters to mould a better society.

Still, the Ministry of Education must enforce policies that encourage wholesome growth of learners and discourage paths that lead to anti-social behaviours. Learners should always be positively engaged and leave little room for idleness.