The future of boarding schools is in doubt as the Ministry of Education seeks approval to abolish them and expand day schools to curb unrest.
A top ministry official says the move will go hand-in-hand with teachers’ delocalisation.
Education Principal Secretary, Belio Kipsang told Parliament yesterday strengthening day schools will compel parents to take a bigger role in shaping the future of their children.
He blamed increased cases of arson in schools on lack of proper upbringing of children.
“Day-schooling is the future of education in Kenya. It is the way to go to arrest the perennial unrest in schools. There is a strong feeling that parents have abdicated their role of parentage and left it to teachers. From our side, we feel that parents should also take a bigger share of shaping children,” he said.
Destruction of property
Kipsang was appearing before the National Assembly’s Education Committee together with senior ministry officials and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) chief executive officer Julius Jwan.
In the past two weeks, the country has recorded massive destruction of property with learning in more than 40 institutions interrupted by unruly students.
In a report to the committee, 142 students have been arrested over the mayhem so far. Three students of Siakago Boys in Embu have been charged and put on probation and their parents instructed to monitor them.
Kipsang said most of those arrested are from 39 schools hit by violence and arson.
Nyanza and Western regions are the worst hit with Kisii High School the latest victim of urest where a dormitory built 84 years ago was razed.
The PS also said what happened in Chalbi Boys, where six students, who are still on the run, assaulted teachers, is unacceptable. It clearly exhibited poor parentage, he added, saying parents should be sensitive when solving domestic issues.
“Despite the unrest being in various stages, they are criminal activities committed by criminals who have masked themselves in school uniforms. We will unmask them,” he said Kipsang.
He told the Tinderet MP Julius Melly-led team that school going children operating from home is viable and that other countries had adopted it. He gave examples of Rwanda, Uganda, Singapore, UK and US as nations that have succeeded in day-schooling.
Nairobi School, St Georges, Lenana, Kianda and Moi Girls were among 19 traditional boarding institutions that opened doors to free day school learning in January.
“The ministry would like to increase opportunities in day schooling so that parents can have an opportunity of engaging their children and making sure that they are properly taken care of,” he said.
While giving an update of the progress of the pilot phase of the Competent-Based Curriculum, Jwan also appealed to the MPs to consider day-schooling.
“It is only Kenya that is still captive to the assumption that boarding school education is the best. Day schooling is the future that will help us handle arson,” he said.
He said it was perplexing to hear parents complain when schools close for as short as two weeks. “We have to re-look the role of parenting.”
He asserted the need to find fresh correctional ways without inflicting pain as in corporal punishment, which had been removed from the country’s laws.
The MPs said the country is sitting on a time bomb as far as unrest in schools are concerned.
Kipsang lashed out at those opposed to the delocalisation policy saying it will continue as planned.
“Teachers should be allowed to work anywhere in the country. Other civil servants are scattered all over but when it comes to teachers, I do not know why there is always a problem,” he said.
Bomachoge Borabu MP Zadock Ogutu, however, urged TSC to engage stakeholders before effecting the deployments.
“We cannot be dictated to by students that the transfer of heads is a bad thing. In fact, some teachers and students are deliberately working together in the burning of schools,” he said.
But Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion wants the policy revoked, claiming it was implemented without consultation.