The end of the second term has seen principals and teachers across the country breathe a sigh of relief. As soon as the closing assembly was over on Thursday, our fatigued school head, Okonkwo, dropped out of sight. He has been ‘mteja’ (unavailable on phone).
According to Schola, our school gossiper in chief, he took an emergency loan from Mwalimu national Sacco and went to the coast to relax and swim off the stress in the Indian Ocean waters. If word on the street is to be believed, Okonkwo’s case is even better because we are told a number of school heads are said to have developed ulcers, hypertension and other stress related conditions.
It was a tough task to contain students in school while ensuring that dormitories weren’t burnt. “Students have taken over schools,” observed Vasco Da Gama, the talkative history teacher, as we relaxed at JJ’s pub. We had just demolished a goat’s engine (head) and escorted it down with ‘Muteta’ soup.
Indeed, many schools closed early. Quite a number did not attract media attention since there were no fires to report. Such students have been praised for their wisdom. They only defied school authorities and walked home without torching dormitories! That is how low the nation has sunk in terms of student discipline! Isn’t defying school authority on its own a serious offence, in the first place?
There is even the hilarious joke about a school in Makueni County where students who didn’t want to sit for the end of term exams are said to have convened an assembly and declared the school closed. One of the teachers was asked to give a vote of thanks since they had behaved well and avoided destroying any school property!
The second term has seen many teachers across the country spend more time ensuring that fire extinguishers were functional than covering the syllabus. Teachers in boarding schools have known little sleep as they were reduced to night guards and fire fighters as soon as darkness fell. Their spouses have indeed endured lonely nights. Vasco Da Gama wonders how the Chairperson of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission Sarah Serem would evaluate and recommend compensation for that aspect of job performance.
He even claims that his muscles are sore from the effects of carrying fire extinguishers at night. As a nation, we are paying the price for our collective hypocrisy, blame game between teachers and parents are to blame for our school children’s fascination with violence. Weren’t our kids treated to images of innocent people being burnt in houses and churches in the Rift Valley during the 2013 post elections violence? When not using language that should only remain in the devil’s vocabulary, our elected leaders have engaged in primitive brawls which the media has beamed live to our sitting rooms.
Add to the mix parents who are too busy hustling, leaving no time to interact with their kids who end up being strangers to them. Actually, many have found the perfect solution in boarding schools. During a discipline committee meeting at Meta Meta secondary school, a parent threatened to sue Okonkwo for character assassination for sending her daughter home on suspicions of smoking ‘weed’ (bhang).
“My daughter has been brought up in the church and can’t smoke,” she shouted. She fainted in shock when the girl admitted that the teacher on duty, Madam Flo, had extracted a stick of bhang, a match box and ‘muguka’ (khat) from her bra during an impromptu search. “Socs remember, Monkey see, Monkey do,” Vasco Da Gama says as he takes a gulp straight from the bottle and, to avoid his drink being ‘spiced’ with ‘mchele’ (sedative), staggers with it to the washrooms.