Kenya: Number of Learners Facing Charges in Courts on the Rise

The number of students in secondary schools who are facing criminal charges, ranging from use of drugs to destruction of property, in courts of law in the country is increasing by the day.

The latest is the arrest of 57 secondary students in Nakuru this week who were found smoking bhang and watching pornographic movies.

More than 200 students from various secondary schools in the Rift Valley region had been rounded up but only 57 were arrested as the rest escaped.

BURNING SCHOOLS

Those arrested will be charged in court.

Since 2016 to date, several students have been charged in court with examination malpractices, burning of schools and drug abuse.

In July last year, police arrested 125 students for planning school strikes and their cases are still pending before courts.

Now experts in the education sector want the government to come up with a policy to deal with indiscipline cases in schools.

National Assembly Education committee chairman Julius Melly and Kenya secondary school heads association chairman Kahi Indimuli agree that indiscipline in schools is a thorny issue that must be addressed.

National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo told the Sunday Nation that the issue of students being charged in court must be addressed.

"Students are copying what others are doing in the society. It is sad that these children are being charged in court together with other criminals," said Mr Maiyo.

He said students facing disciplinary cases should be sent to special schools.

Education expert Andiwo Obondo said the discipline system in schools had failed that is why students are committing crimes.

"Students from several schools converging at a central place to commit a crime means that they have been planning for some time. It also shows that there is no peer-to-peer surveillance in schools," said Mr Obondo.

He added that the discipline management system in schools must be relooked at, adding that parents and teachers should also play their roles effectively.

PURCHASE PETROL

Last month in Nyeri, 20 students from Giakanja Boys High School were arrested for attempted arson.

Investigations revealed the students had doused mattresses with kerosene ready to torch their school.

The suspects were detained at the Nyeri Police Station where they spent the night and five of them were arraigned in court to answer to charges of attempted arson. They denied the charges.

They were released after the school withdrew the charges against them following negotiations between the school administration, the board of management, the parents and officials from the Ministry of Education.

Less than one week later, on July 26, some 25 students from Ruthagati Boys in Mathira West were arrested over suspicion that they were planning to burn the school.

The school principal, who conducted a routine search at 12.30am, found three litres of petrol.

A boda boda rider suspected to have assisted the students purchase the petrol was also arrested.

Four of the students were charged with conspiracy to commit a felony.

In Meru, four students from St Mary's Girls High School Igoji were charged in a Nkubu court with torching a dormitory on July 16.

PARENTS BLAMED

The central region director of education, Margaret Lesuda, blamed parents for the arrest of their children.

She said that parents had neglected their duties, which involved counselling and guiding their children.

"Parents have become too busy to even offer their children counselling or guide them. They do not know their children or those they hang out with," she said.

In Homa Bay, the Board of Management of St Ambrose Got Rabuor Mixed Secondary School will determine whether to accept or expel a student who fought and tore the clothes of a male teacher who had caned him.

The student was in the company of other learners who were found speaking Dholuo. School regulations require them to speak either English or Swahili.

The teacher who approached them decided to punish the students for disobeying school rules, but the Form Three boy declined to be punished, saying he was a senior student and could not be disciplined by a junior teacher.

This year, several students have been charged in court but the Ministry of Education is yet to compile the data.

Last year, students at Chalbi High School attacked their teachers following the cancellation of the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination results.

Reporting by Ouma Wanzala, Reginah Kinogu and George Odiwuor

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