Arson at Garissa High School linked to drug abuse.
Drug and substance abuse among students, as well as a refusal by teachers and students to provide information to investigators, were blamed for an arson attack at Garissa High School two weeks ago.
A dormitory at the school was destroyed in a second fire.
On Saturday, the board of management, teachers, and the county security team convened.
The security team and BoM made a number of recommendations, including clearing a thicket within the school playing field where notorious students used to hide to abuse drugs.
County commissioner Boaz Cherutich, who chairs the county security team, stated that it was the responsibility of the parents, teachers, BOM, and students to find a long-term solution to the problem.
“As we move forward, I want to urge parents and teachers to fully cooperate and avoid blame game on this matter. At the end of the day, our children have to be in class and learning to continue. The school has to move forward,” the county commissioner said.
He requested that the principal ensure that all students live on campus to avoid the sneaking of harmful substances, such as petrol, which the government chemist confirmed was used in the first incident.
Nicodemus Ndalana, the Northeastern regional commissioner, visited Garissa High School two weeks ago to assess the fire damage in one of the dormitories.
He stated that those who destroy school or college property would face severe consequences.
“Investigations are ongoing into the arson attacks and those who were involved will be prosecuted. This will serve as a deterrent to others,” Ndalana said.
After a fire razed down a dormitory on Sunday, the NEP Girls High School board of management temporarily closed the institution’s boarding wing last week.
The board decided to close the boarding wing because 80 per cent of the boarders could work from home. They will be day scholars for the time being.
The decision was one of several recommendations made following a crisis meeting.
In response to the school unrest, PCEA head Rev Patrick Mutahi stated that the violence in schools was a true reflection of how rotten society has become.
Mutahi, who spoke at the Madogo PCEA church in Tana River, blamed parents for abdicating their responsibilities, resulting in child indiscipline.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha stated that his ministry was partially responsible for the recent school fires.
Magoha highlighted the packed school calendar as one of the school-based reasons for the school fires in response to queries asked by nominated MP Wilson Sossion.
He added that the government attempted to rearrange the school schedule in order to make up for the time lost during the pandemic.
As a result, students had to complete the curriculum in a shorter amount of time.
“The need to cover the curriculum within a shorter period might have occasioned over-teaching during the weekend, early mornings, and late evenings,” he explained.
As a result, time set aside for co-curricular activities was largely spent in class, putting learners under stress.
Students were then denied the opportunity to participate and socialize outside of the classroom environment, with the exception of school-wide recesses.
The fires, according to the CS, were caused by a breakdown in communication between the students and the administration.
He believes the unrest is a technique of expressing underlying irritabilities.
Furthermore, he noted that some school administrative techniques may be perceived as oppressive by students who have complete freedom at home, noting this as a primary source of student dissatisfaction with the administration.
Congestion, drug and substance addiction, and insufficient counselling services are among the other school-based problems mentioned.
Laws that protect pupils who exhibit criminal behaviour from disciplinary actions from teachers are among the most significant external factors that encourage school fires.
According to Magoha, this, combined with overprotective parents, undermined student discipline. According to the CS, the ministry has taken both short- and long-term measures to address the current school discontent.
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He went on to say that the government had formed three task forces to involve stakeholders in addressing and mitigating previous and current events.