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Kenya's education sector in crises amid burning of school dormitories

02 August 2016, 21:10

Nairobi (Xinhua) -- The torching of dormitories by enraged high school students has triggered a new crisis in Kenya's education sector as national leaders, experts and investors intensify the call for a durable solution to the menace.

By Monday, an estimated 120 schools across Kenya had experienced a form of arson on students' living quarters and laboratories hence triggering fresh turmoil in the education sector.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 29 said the government will take a stern action against criminals behind torching of learning facilities whose cost of rebuilding could run into millions of dollars.

Speaking at a public forum in Nairobi, Kenyatta said his government supported peaceful dialogue between school administrators and students to avert strikes and destruction of property.

He stressed that national leaders, parents, teachers and administrators had an obligation to instill sound values to young learners in order to minimize lawlessness in schools.

"It is the duty of every parent, teacher and leaders of all stripes to offer guidance to students to ensure they are not lured into criminal activities like burning of schools," Kenyatta said.

He ruled out an early closure of schools citing the need for education stakeholders to engage in mutual dialogue and explore ways to avert torching of learning facilities by aggrieved students.

State officials alongside key stakeholders in the education sector blamed indiscipline among students, cartels and inept administrators for the menace.

Cabinet Secretary for education, Fred Matiang'i threw salvo when he accused cartels involved in leaking of examinations of inciting students to set their schools ablaze.

"Criminal networks that have profited from selling leaked exams to students are behind the current wave of arson in many schools," said Matiang'i.

He also blamed drug abuse among students, morally corrupt administrators and teachers for fuelling strikes and destruction of property in schools.

On July 29, Matiang'i met key stakeholders in the education sector including religious leaders, experts and investors to discuss viable measures to halt burning of schools.

The meeting resolved to spearhead implementation of fresh proposals that included better governance in schools and mentorship for students to prevent eruption of strikes.

In particular, stakeholders in the education sector urged school administrators to improve their relationship with students through dialogue and mutual respect to avert chaos in learning institutions.

As Kenya grappled with escalating crises in the education sector occasioned by strikes and arson in schools, campaigners said at a meeting in Nairobi on Monday that a paradigm shift was an imperative to restore order and decency in learning institutions.

Janet Ouko, the national coordinator of Elimu Yetu Coalition, a lobby group, said that policies and laws governing management of schools should be overhauled in order to reflect evolving dynamics in the education sector.

"The government and other stakeholders must initiate far-reaching reforms in the institutional structures of schools," Ouko remarked, adding that school managers should be attentive to physical and emotional needs of young learners.

- Xinhua


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