By Joseph Muraya
Tens of schools have been burnt down in mysterious circumstances across the country, in a few weeks and no one seems to know the cause or how to arrest the situation.
I see all the blame being apportioned to the students with others like Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya proposing hefty punishment for those found culpable.
Not even a 60-year jail term as proposed by Oparanya will stop the worrying trend.
I dare say this will not address the problem. What is the root cause of the fires and other incidents of school unrest?
A friend recently shared what I had only thought happened to our school.
While in secondary school, they were incited to hold a strike after destroying the property.
“You guys needs not to be boring,” the rogue teacher in an apparent inciting tone said.
More than a decade ago, the same happened in my school somewhere in Central Kenya.
This was through documented admission of several students, who accused the said teacher of initiating the plan and even overseeing it to the last stage.
The said teacher wanted the headteacher, who had introduced radical reforms in the institution, transferred.
It happened multiple times until several students, ‘tired’ of being misused, spilled the beans.
While this alone is not a reason to prove that some rogue teachers could be playing a role in the perennial fire incidents, it could provide a lead.
And no, it is not about the tight calendar as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I know this might sound extreme, but I think ‘kikulacho kinguoni mwako’.
My appeal to education officers and detectives probing all these cases, look no further as you probe the students, the real culprit could be right in the teachers’ staff rooms.
Several task forces have been formed and come up with a myriad of recommendations and whether it is a lack of implementation or glaring gaps in their reports, remains a mystery.
Whether the several reports capture the reality on the ground is an up for all stakeholders to establish, and act before more property is destroyed and lives lost.
As we address all other loopholes and investigate rogue teachers, what should be done?
The headteachers should not be caught off-guard when the incidents are being planned.
Like in our schools, form ‘family units’ that will be given one teacher to be a surrogate parent.
The units will plan family-like meetings, have peer review sessions, and even plan games, get-togethers, and so on.
Like in our case, we would celebrate when a member of our unit excels in either class or field and our surrogate mum would often gift us.
This led to enhanced disciplined in school and performance. It is possible to design the units, which operate more like Nyumba Kumi initiatives in our villages.
This will complement other measures, some academic, parent and so on, in addressing indiscipline among students.
Joseph Muraya is a Security, Governance, and Human Rights Journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the current Secretary-General of the Crime Journalists Association of Kenya.