KENYA has banned use of cell phones in schools as one way to contain scholars’ rioting, which hit the country over second weekend of July. Kenyan scholars went on rampage over alleged maladministration, incompetent staff and poor supervision, which students claim to be barrier to learners staying in school’s residences.
Education Minister Sam Ongeri ordered for removal of music systems and DVDs from school buses, among other tough new measures aimed at restoring discipline in boarding schools. “I am banning the use of mobile phones by our students in our schools,” Mr Ongeri told Parliament. Mr Ongeri also directed schools to stop buying luxury buses with TVs and powerful music systems, urging schools to hand over to police students who either organised or took part in the violence. Speaking in parliament, education minister described the spate of strikes as a matter of national concern and told MPs that his ministry had developed manuals on safety and peace in education.
The minister had singled out political interference in schools’ administration and mismanagement as other causes of chaos in Kenya education. He asked school administrators to assess damages and forward information to the Ministry of Education headquarters. The ban, which takes effect immediately, comes a day after police charged dozens of students with arson and inciting violence after the mid-July weekend riots that left at least one student dead and several injured as scholars torched buildings and destroyed property.
Although the minister is imposing tough measures on scholars to curb strikes, another report said students of one of the schools in central Kenya went on the rampage, burning a dormitory. Furious politicians, parents and teachers angered by the ongoing unrest are now calling for the reinstatement of canning (whipping) as a form of discipline in schools which was officially abolished in Kenya seven years ago.
A Member of Parliament, Mr David Koech, attributed strikes to delays by ministry to disburse funds for free secondary education, while also seeking clarification a number of teachers handling guidance and counseling in schools, to deal with situations like current education crisis. More than 300 secondary schools have gone on strike in Kenya over the past month, while students have destroyed properties worth millions of shillings as they protest against poor living conditions and bad management. Kenya introduced a free secondary schooling education programme with a target of raising student enrolment to 1.4 million by end of the year after having been alarmed by high number of primary leaving students following introduction of universal free primary education in 2002.