This a summary part of a report that’s based on preliminary findings that will fully be
compiled and presented for public scrutiny and stakeholders review.
Student unrest is majorly the disruptive behavior of the smooth running of a learning
institution within an academic calendar (Christian, 2005).With Education being a basic
need that must be attained and conferred to every child which is strengthened by the
major goals outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that outline and
insist on Education for all by the year 2015 (MDGs, 2009).
Education has been seen both as an indicator and instrument for development since in
increases labor productivity both in Urban and Rural sectors. Education plays an integral
part in achieving the economic equity and geographical dispersal that is presumed in
integrating diverse citizens (Davidson, 1996).
McGregor (2006) argues that students’ discipline is a prerequisite to almost everything a
school has to offer students. In schools where discipline is a serious problem, student
unrest is likely. However, studies have shown that in dealing with indiscipline by using
punishment does not necessarily produce positive results (Rosen, 2000).
As all this in nature are interrelated, one cannot always know or predict how one event
will affect another. Similar principles are at play in leading to burning schools. A closer
generic look can be seen within three outlines namely the micro level, situational level
and macro level. At the micro level, individual students look at issues from their own
personal and individualistic points of view, often leading to the fundamental attribution
error. Stories of arson can therefore include statements such as “students were denied the
right to watch soccer matches”. In situational and macro levels of understanding, groups
of students feel seriously aggrieved, described by psychologists as group think, which
leads to a process of projection in which groups project their own faults onto the
offending party. Groups that are aggressive or selfish, seeking to bolster their self-worth
attribute traits to others as being evil such as the school administration, teachers or the
Principals but not to themselves thereby increasing their self-image and increasing group
cohesion (Bascal, 2004).
Phares (2002) point to the fact that socio cultural background is a major contributor to
shaping the way a child behaves in school and society at large. This finding is supported
by Vicky (2001) who argues that a child’s social integration with peers and friends can
also contribute to the way a child behaves later on in life. Many other studies have
reported correlation between the use of psychoactive substances and unlawful behavior
Some of the new reforms in the education system include: shortening of the school
holidays, abolition of traditions such as visiting and prayer days as a way to curb cheating
in the national exams. The main issue is that this was done sporadically and without any
consultations with the key stake holders. For this reason, the students feel targeted and
the teachers feel isolated explaining the rigidness in adapting to the new rules.
Conflict refers to a situation whereby two or more parties have varying ideologies or
views on particular issues. In a conflict, one party may feel that their views do not match
those of another or are more superior creating tension and thus ending up in conflict, the
Kenyan education sector has been characterized by very many reforms in the recent past
which includes the introduction of new rules that many actors are not too happy with,
the most diplomatic and democratic way to handle conflict would be through positive
communication but for this to happen there has to be an effective channel of
Poor communication has also been cited as a cause of bad behavior amongst students
(Bascal, 2004). In most cases students are hesitant to work with their superiors leading to
disregard for authority. Other alleged causes of unrest in schools are for example the
absence of parents, significant adults and role models in the lives of students. Studies
have shown that mentors can make a profound difference in the lives of their mentees
and in turn, strengthen communities, economy, and country.
Some of the students questioned on the school unrest said that there were no channels to
communicate their grievances. One of the channels put in place both to ensure discipline
among the students and to provide a link between the students and the school
administrators is the Prefect system. It is important then to look at how the prefect
system works at some schools.
As much as students participate in the election of their prefects body students still feel the
process doesn’t instill confidence in them to air their grievances since the prefects
themselves are always in fear of victimization by the administration and in other cases
the administration will always manipulate the outcomes of the electoral process thus not
reflecting the choices made by the students body.
There’s no direct communication between parents and their children because most heads have not devolved the mandate to class teachers.
Academic based curriculum
Most schools in Kenya are looking for mean grades in academics. How do you explain a student wakes up at 4:30am and only breaks for meals, then rests at 10:30pm.
Games is compulsory but most schools don’t adhere to that: either there’s a lesson or clubs & societies at 4:00pm which are still passive. Teaching goes on during weekends especially in full boarding schools and surprisingly there’s no entertainment or if there’s its, it takes place within very short period of time. How do you explain most day schools, latest arrival in school is 6:30am? Of what significance? Manual work or learning?
This lack of enough time for active activities leads to fatigue amongst students which leads to rebellion.
The guidelines overprotect the students against the teachers. This has led to tutors switching off because of the harsh penalty the ministry can impose on them if they go against. Stressful tsc, stressful ministry, moribund school administration and don’t care students leaves the teacher with no interest at all. Therefore the employ the so called teach and go home. For example examine schools meant for demonstration like kaimosi demonstration school in vihiga county. Students are allowed to have a say on almost all matters involving the running of the school including the number of exams to be done.
Rigid school administrators
Lack of flexibility amongst principals who still embraces life of yesterday thus totally analogue. Accessing a phone by a student is very cumbersome. This leads to some students owning their own phones in schools. For example both principal and his deputy are very harsh, no go zone in their offices but they insist only their phones should be used for communication.
How do you explain most boys boarding schools have not watched a single world cup match?
This problem shows that in Kenya there is need for interventions that will address
leadership by Principals, Administration, and School Prefects. Clearly these three groups
lack leadership capacity to effectively diagnose and counter emerging challenges and
offer positive impact and influence. Their leadership failure includes assumptions that
everyone is on board and happy, with a broad vision of seeking academic success, or
whatever motto the said school has. Where others are not on board, we see leaders
resorting to becoming overly autocratic and authoritarian, enhanced by communication
styles that are highly directive and abrasive, and destroying team creativity for solutions.
Overall, schools unrest in Kenya is influenced by among other things students’ sociocultural backgrounds, psychoactive substance use, lack of proper communication
mechanisms between school leaders and students, abdication of parental responsibilities,
and introduction of rules and regulations that are perceived by students as overbearing.
The study has also shown that there are several other factors that cause student unrest
such as imitation, sheer numbers, lack of respect for authority, obsolete curriculum, and
lack of proper models from parents and leaders.
Ultimately All schools should be day schools.