ARE BOARDING SCHOOLS BECOMING A DEATH TRAP FOR STUDENTS?

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In one week, over ten boarding schools have either gone on a strike or a fire incident has been reported.

The most recent one being the fire incident that took place at Buruburu Girls high school on the evening of Sunday, 31st October.

Videos circulating the internet showed helpless students jumping from the two-storey dormitory that was engulfed in flames.

To say the least, that video was so uncomfortable to watch. Since it’s not every other day you see girls jumping from high places. And especially for their lives. See video below:

If you are a follower of the most famous gossip page in Kenya, the Nairobi Gossip Club, you may have noticed that every day they have reported a school or two to be on strike or a fire incidence. In fact, in two days, over five schools have been reported to have gone on strikes. See attached images below.

The schools are from different parts of the country and they all have their unique reasons for the strikes.

As a student, I disliked being in a boarding school. Majorly because we were treated like convicts with very uptight rules. And if the same rules and governance is found in all schools, I’m not surprised they are revolting.

Earlier this year, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) wanted the Ministry of Education to consider abolishing boarding schools.

Their argument was that boarding schools are a contributing factor to indiscipline among students. And that such things as students beating teachers and strikes would not be there if we only had day schools. So Kuppet wanted the ministry to phase out boarding schools sane way caning was phased out. In fact, there is no relationship between boarding schools and learning. Learning is just learning and education is just education. Milemba had said.

Possible causes of strikes

Studies show that strikes in boarding schools are a recurring event. Causes differ from school to school but some major causes would be:

  • Peer pressure.
  • Poor leadership and management of the school.
  • Poor school nutrition.
  • Abuse of drugs and substances.
  • Examinations phobia.
  • Poor student and teacher relationships.
  • Student, not being listened to.
  • Corporal means of punishment.

The causes are without a doubt more than those mentioned. The first strike I ever witnessed when I was in high school happened because our deputy principal banned an event that was meant to crown the ‘Miss and Mr.’ school. And another time we went on strike because the end-of-year exams were too hard.

From my experience and perspective, I feel like teachers focus on instilling fear in students such that it becomes hard for students to openly talk about their struggles. And for them to be heard they opt to strike. Why can’t teachers be friends with the students?

Mental health

More often than not mental health is a topic you will never come across in high school. The transition from primary school to secondary school and day school to a boarding school may have an impact on any kid. But these issues are not addressed. Students are bullied by both teachers and students, teachers have obnoxious expectations on students and still think that students mental health is not affected?

Sometimes students struggle with personal issues but they do not have anyone to talk to. Either there are no counseling services at schools or they are unreliable. It’s not a wonder other students opt for suicide.- which is really sad!

I don’t know what the ministry has said and or done in addressing these strikes and fires. Because parents may eventually opt not to take their kids to boarding schools.

So can the government address these issues and plan on a way forward as soon as possible?

What are your thoughts on the same?

By Wanjiru Mbaru

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