News Dispatch with Omolo Joachim
FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2016
Several suggestions have been made to end the burning of schools in Kenya. One particular suggestion is that schools must have a school discipline policy which is developed in consultation with school community members containing four components:
1. The discipline code or school rules
2. Strategies and practices to promote positive student behaviour, including specific strategies to maintain a climate of respect
3. Strategies and practices to recognise and reinforce student achievement
4. Strategies and practices to manage inappropriate student behaviour.
In order to achieve this goal they suggest that the school discipline policy must:
1. be consistent with legislation and reflect government and departmental policy
2. Incorporate the principles of procedural fairness
3. Be developed within a strong student welfare context
4. Reflect the identified needs of the community
5. Outline expected standards of behaviour
6. Define the responsibilities of teachers, students and parents.
The other suggestion is that all students and staff to be treated fairly and with dignity in an environment free from disruption, intimidation, harassment, victimisation and discrimination. To achieve this, all schools are expected to maintain high standards of discipline.
Principals must ensure that students, staff and parent(s) and carer(s) are provided with opportunities to contribute to the development of the policy and that staff are provided with training and development opportunities in behaviour management.
There are some who suggest that students’ welfare, whose function is to ensure that any need arising from the students, is catered for and must be attended to accordingly. The need may arise from lack of school fees or lack of necessities. The welfare must ensure a comfortable environment for the students.
There are others who want schools to be closed immediately to enable stakeholders to investigate possible links among principals, teachers, students, residents, politicians, local suppliers and exam leaks cartels in arson areas.
While others are suggesting that students’ views should be included in key decision making bodies such as the Board of Managements, Parent Teacher Associations and special management committees. In addition, preferred channels of harnessing students’ views included notice boards, prefect body, assemblies, and class meetings.
In Many High schools in Kenya communication is disproportional and unfair as communication was one way- a form of telling and instructing students – rather than encouraging dialogue and open discussion between student and school administrators. Further, communication channels that fostered dialogue and open discussion were unpopular and little used. These included the baraza system, student council, open forums and student parliaments. In other words, student participation in secondary schools is still wanting and needed to be expanded to include issues beyond student welfare issues.
Determine the influence of school location on head teacher management of student welfare services and how home-school partnership of head teacher influences student welfare services and also to establish the extent to which gender, academic qualification, administrative experience and age of the head teacher influence management of students welfare services.
Other Kenyans think that lack of parents support and delayed government funds, which make planning and acquisition of essential materials difficult is to blame. Therefore this commends that the head teachers look for ways of educating the parents on their roles in providing services for their sons and daughters. The government should also to stick to specific time line for disbursing the supporting funds to the schools in order for them to better provide welfare services to the students.
Since high quality teaching staffs are the cornerstone of a successful education system in Kenya, some Kenyans suggest that teachers should be motivated. Although in many schools in Kenya school fee structure includes motivation fees for teachers, in most cases teachers are not motivated. Many studies have associated motivational factors to enhanced job performance, positive work values, high levels of employee motivation, and lower rates turnover and burnout.
While these ideas are good, one thing which is not is about money looting in High schools. According to recent survey by the Auditor General Edward Ouko on financial statements from the Ministry of Education, the Government is losing millions of shillings of capitation funds in public schools through inflated enrollment figures.
Ministry figures indicate that the State remits Sh28 billion annually to all public secondary schools to benefit 2.2 million students. Another Sh14 billion is sent to primary schools to benefit about 10 million children annually. The survey revealed that secondary school heads collect another Sh116.6 billion in school fees from parents annually. This is despite Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich increment of Sh32.7 billion set aside to cater for free day secondary schools. Another Sh14.1 billion, Mr Rotich said, would facilitate free primary education.
The report reveals that 36 schools awarded tenders worth Sh26.1 million through indirect procurement instead of open tendering as required by the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005. It also indicates that some schools awarded tenders to suppliers who were not vetted by the tender committees. And the queries did not end there. A scrutiny of financial records of 24 schools revealed that funds were transferred from one account to another without requisite authority.
A total of Sh15.7 million in four schools was transferred irregularly as at June 30, 2014. A review of the position in March, 2015 revealed that some schools had refunded Sh13.7 million to the original accounts, leaving an outstanding amount of Sh1.9 million.
In most cases school bursars are the beneficiaries. You get a bursar earning ksh 30,000 and he or she is able to build decent house, taking his children to academy schools from baby class to high school. Ministry of education auditors are part of the system, unless private auditors are involved.
Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578