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Restore teachers dignity to end students indiscipline

UREPORT
By Andrew Mibei | July 4th 2016

The spate of school unrest across the country is a pointer to things that will almost become a 'norm' in public schools, unless radical changes are urgently effected.

When Parliament passed laws to 'protect' the Kenyan child,  teachers' hands were inadvertently tied, and the erstwhile custodian of discipline among adolescents have remained exposed.

When one carefully looks at the Children's Act, 2001 and the Education Act, 2013, it is obvious that these laws did not consider the important role teachers play in moulding the children under their care.

The discipline that was held supreme before the Children's Act, 2001 was passed has gone to the dogs. Imagining that teens will listen to counsel without the threat of some pain is a lie to this generation.

The discipline of our nation has been entrusted to non-existent departments in our schools, and which has been taken up very quickly by the entrepreneurial so-called motivational speakers.

What teachers offered for free is now being paid for and the results are the burning of dormitories because, the conduct of students for the whole term cannot be pegged on a one-day event.

The relegation of the teacher to some simple appendage in the education system has helped create a robot who is always reminded that he is paid to only teach, and whatever else he does is not considered useful.

He is neither trained nor paid to handle indiscipline and disorder in school, because that is the work of the police. The teacher is neither trained nor paid to counsel the students because that is the work psychiatrists.

The teacher is neither trained nor paid to nurture the youth because that is the work of the parents. There are so many other roles that the teacher has been doing dutifully but he is constantly reminded that he is supposed to be teaching and making learners get some set grades.

This is the only measure that is currently used to determine the worth of a teacher. So sad.

Of late, the now famous visits to schools by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi have created fodder for the media who have been unforgiving to the school administrators and teachers.

The problems in schools will be addressed better if teachers are involved in every aspect, and their input valued. Unless this is done, Dr Matiangi should brace himself for more fires and destruction.

That a school principal from a county school in Narok had to undergo surgery because of internal bleeding, after a student hit him with a stone, is the sad reality of where our nation is heading to.

This is just one of the many incidents where teachers have been exposed to ridicule and harassment by the same students they are supposed to be taking care of.

Written and verbal abuses targeting the teacher are becoming a norm in our schools. Sexual harassment of teachers by the same students is common, and whenever the same students go on the rampage, teachers are physically assaulted.

And in all these cases, the teacher is always blamed while the students' behaviour is almost justified.

The education officers who visit such schools go straight to the learner to hear their grievances. Whatever these rowdy youths tell them is taken as the gospel truth, and in almost all instances, the students blame the teacher for everything.

A case in point is a school in Bomet County that has had three fire incidences in one month and no teacher has been asked for any information concerning the same.

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