Of late, arsony has become the trend in our country of Kenya. It is not something new, but the rate at which schools, churches and other institutions are being burnt is alarming. Since the new year dawned and schools reopened, there have been atleast three schools a week being razed down.
The key reason being given for the arsony is the long unsupervised stay at home by students. The Covid pandemic brought with it challenges such as looking over children while work continued. However, it is crucial to point out that the situation was not the same everywhere. The following factors prove why this reasoning is faulty:
- Some students were monitored by their parents (some professions like teaching did not resume, others were done from home while others still got unemployed/retrenched.)
- The argument that children do not want to continue to study because they have been away from school for eight months is faulty. An example to such is how some students continued taking online classes or doing self revision at home. Thus it beats logic that students would burn schools because they are not used to them.
- Transition in school is usually tough – yes. Emotionally, physically and mentally challenging – very much. Enough to burn a school – not so much. Remember that arsony is an organized crime: it requires planning for a long time plus getting the right ingredients for a fire. Looking at previous history of arsony, it was usually a form of protest, rowdiness or a cry for attention. However, sudden transition into school is not something new so burning schools doesn’t make sense. There are periods when elections have interfered with studying calendars. Yes the pandemic could be attributed to the act but there are more deeper issues that bear weight than just not wanting to study!
Arsony, as said earlier, is an organized crime. Hence this points to the deep-lying factors that could be leading to students resorting to burning schools. Mental health needs to be looked at now more than ever. Also, arsony usually is a call for attention meaning students need to be heard. Here are some tips on how to stop the burning of schools;
- Give students a platform to air out the issues affecting them. This could be in form of having a field day with their teachers or counsellors available in school. They should be made to feel comfortable in saying whatever they want without fearing punishment or any person.
- Learning can be made accommodating by being reduced to exclude morning and evening preps for the time being. As the term goes on, it could be slowly introduced.
- Instead of increasing pressure on students to ask their parents to pay fees or be kicked from schools, the school should find ways to get the parents to pay, even if slowly. Pressure on the students should be avoided.
- Poor performance in examinations or lack of completion of assignments should be looked at from the aspects of students. Some have not been studying for a long time. Teachers should try to encourage and assist the students to cope with the new norms.
- Syllabus coverage should not be done just to meet completion. The teachers should make sure they engage the students in the lessons. They ought to revisit topics that students do not understand. If some students fail to fully grasp concepts, the teacher should reteach or organise for study sessions with the “weak” students.
- Students should report their colleagues who want to raze down the school or any outside individuals who approach them or their colleagues with such offers. The students who are reported should be counselled and treated with care since expelling them could have dire consequences. It could incite the students against the administration. External influencers should be caught and reported to the police.
NB. RESORTING TO CANING STUDENTS OR USING CORPORAL PUNISHMENT SHOULD NOT BE AN OPTION. The tips mentioned above should be exhausted first. If they all fail and no progress is seen, then and only then should caning be applied.