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

in Africa


Stakeholders Involvement

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.



Communication Breakdown

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.

Ministries guidelines

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.                                                                                                                                    


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