The spate of strikes that have hit secondary schools in the past week portends ill for the education sector. What started as isolated cases are snowballing into a cri-sis and as we cautioned recently, must be contained. It is imperative for the Education ministry to seek quick resolution and restore normalcy in schools.
As we publish elsewhere today, the causes of the strikes are manifestly clear to the education authorities. In recent years, students have tended to strike for ridiculous reason – being denied a chance to steal national examinations. Put differently, they demand to be assisted or allowed to steal exams and failure to do so, they resort to strike. It is blackmail, pure and simple.
For a period, exam cheating became the norm as students worked in cahoots with teachers and parents to secure test papers well in advance and thoroughly pre-pare and score high marks. National examinations nearly ceased to be the standard measure for learning outcomes. Instead, they were becoming commodities for trade with the best grades going to the highest bidders.
Since the loopholes were sealed following stringent administrative and policy rules instituted two years ago by the Ministry of Education and the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec), learners have become rather restless because they can no longer fluke their way through the system.
Hence, the rebellion manifested in burning down school facilities, beating up teachers or staging march protests. We recognise, though, that there are other reasons for student unrest such as high-handedness among school administrators, deprivation of entitlements and generally poor institutional management.
As we have argued before, schools must change management styles by adopting progressive and democratic practices, including consultations, transparency and accountability. No longer can schools operate like small empires presided over by demi-gods who run roughshod over everyone.
Additionally, schools are susceptible to external influences where students are incited to protest and force principals or teachers to be thrown out.
General student indiscipline, especially triggered by drugs, also greatly contribute to the unrests.
All these issues are not new. Several reports prepared by taskforces or special teams exist that explicitly capture the facts and provide reasonably well-thought out resolutions. Challenge, however, is that the recommendations have never been implemented.
For now, tutors must undertake constant check on learners to avert restlessness and flare-ups in schools.
In the long run, the authorities must institute administrative and policy reforms to change management, ensure effective curriculum delivery and proper preparation of candidates for exams.