Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha on Thursday, November 18, admitted that his ministry was partially to blame for the recent school fires.
In responding to questions posed by nominated MP Wilson Sossion, Magoha listed the congested school calendar as among the school-based causes of the school fires.
He explained that in a bid to recover the time lost during the pandemic, the ministry tried to adjust the school calendar. As a result, learners had to cover the curriculum within a shorter time frame.
“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.
Consequently, time slotted for co-curricular activities was partially consumed in class, which resulted in negative pressure on students. Learners were then denied the opportunity to engage and interact outside the school environment besides the breaks that involved the entire school.
The CS further blamed the fires on communication breakdown between the students and the administration. He stated that the unrest could be a way of communicating underlying irritabilities.
In addition, he pointed out that some of the school administrative styles could be viewed as oppressive by students who enjoy unlimited freedom at home, citing it as a major cause of resentment by students to the administrations.
Other school-based factors mentioned include congestion, drug and substance abuse and inadequate counselling services.
Notably, the biggest external factors that promote school fires include laws that protect students exuding criminal behaviour from disciplinary measures from teachers. Magoha stated that this, alongside overprotective parents, ruined the discipline of students.
The CS revealed that the ministry had taken up both short-term measures and long-term measures to address the current unrest in schools. He also added that the government-appointed three taskforces to engage stakeholders in addressing and mitigating past and present occurrences.
The team includes Claire Omollo, Davy Koech and Naomi Wangai task forces. Magoha added that the ministry had compiled recommendations from the taskforces for implementation.
The ministry then engaged with the stakeholders on recommendations touching on policies, legal, research and monitoring, financing, teachers and schools. The implementation will be done at various stages.