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LETTERS: Find ways of dealing with student woes

Otieno Oyoo High School
A dormitory that was set ablaze at Otieno Oyoo High School in May. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NMG  

As has been the norm in Term 2 of the school calendar, fires are once again with us. Millions of shillings worth of property has gone up in smoke.

Recently in Migori County, it was reported that boys who burnt their dormitory were protesting the fact that girls had been built a permanent structure while they were made to sleep in an iron sheet structure.

It is true that mabati structures may be uncomfortable but burning them does not resolve the issue.

The bottom line in this is we burn it because it does not meet our standards. So who should make sure their standards are met? In another school, students who burnt their dorm claimed that they didn't like some teachers.

Of course for high handedness of the administration and fear of exams, it would be easier to relate since they do so as a means of giving them time to stay away from the sources of anger. but once again, why the dorms?

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It thus means the learners will always find an excuse for whatever evil they commit; they will always justify it like it was the most moral and spontaneous thing to do while in the real sense they know they are lying.

In the wake of delocalisation, it was like they didn't like whoever was coming; they were better off with the devil they knew.

However, now, the devil they know is the source of anger; they can't be more dishonest.

When the fires were raging last year, meetings were called, the riot act read to school managers, threats issued and ultimatums given.

The fires somehow fizzled out, seemingly because they had run out of steam.

Around this time, any school principal will tell you they go to bed without sleeping, save for those in day schools. They are on the receiving end from the ministry and students.

Let the ministry go for the right culprit and punish severely as a deterrent measure. It is not enough to threaten a principal who does not burn the dormitory, while the culprits smile all the way home, return to school and commit a more serious offence. Send them to jail under a special decree, circulate their names and photos to all and warn the public, more so schools.

Secondly, retrain school managers on how to handle emerging threats like cults, drugs, substance abuse and social media.

Though finally each principal will have found a way of dealing with the same, the ground is not level. Equip them, let them fail to apply the knowledge then you can threaten.

Thirdly, the government should avail requisite infrastructure before choking schools with excess learners in the name of 100 percent transition.

You wonder why polytechnics are funded , for craft and artisan courses, and still insist on everyone transiting to form 1. Fourthly when workers incite students to riot because they have not received their salaries for months, the government has an answer.

First the money will delay in coming and when it does, the restrictions are impracticable.

When the government plays PR with parents over 'infrastructure funds', little do the public know that it is money for salaries and other essential vote heads which have been 'misappropriated'. when the workers' salaries delay or don't feature, the Principal has 'eaten' and the punishment is fire so that he exits.

Can the government come clear on free learning and the vote heads it caters for. If you say you have given schools infrastructure money, still within the capitation which was there without the said funds, give them money for the other vote heads, supervise its use and punish any principal whose students burn for dilapidated infrastructure.

Finally drugs and other substances are not in school, they are outside there and the government has the machinery to tackle the ills from their sources before they reach schools. In some cases, government agents have been accomplishes. Instead of carrying out postmortems, treat the cause.

Unless we change tack, the same interventions will always give the same results.

Tasma Saka, Homa Bay

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