Drug tests noble but there are bigger challenges in education

Maranda students

Maranda High School students wait to be re-admitted to on December 3, 2021. The students were required to show proof of mandatory drug and substance tests.

What you need to know:

  • It is important to note that students were not burning schools because of drugs.
  • Apathy is creeping in among students in all levels of education.

It was a noble idea for Maranda High School in Siaya County to direct that their students be tested for use of drugs. However it is important to note that students were not burning schools because of drugs. Suggestions of how to prevent a recurrence of student unrest have already been made. On top is the need to reform the management in the ministry of Education. In addition is improving the schools to accommodate students of the 21st Century.

Over the years, the Ministry of Education has focused on the introduction of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and issuing radical instructions to teachers at the expense of addressing the myriad challenges in the sector. Realizing the desperation of the parents and teachers, students had to riot to express their dissatisfaction. Apathy is creeping in among students in all levels of education. In particular are students in secondary school who are fast realizing that their predecessors are frustrated out there even after getting university education.

Drug and substance abuse is like a grain of sand in the ocean compared to the many challenges facing the education sector. Schools have reported other social ills among students. Unknown earlier are cases of homosexuality and lesbianism. Incest and physical abuse have also been reported by students during counselling sessions. Many of these psycho-socio and emotional issues come with wider exposure to social media. 

Research has shown that human beings abuse drugs, alcohol and other substances because of stress, frustrations and lack of proper guidance. There is need to do a thorough research in schools to find out what is ailing the education system. Our schools are being run as they were run 50 years ago. The Ministry of Education has remained adamant in the way it handles issues touching on the welfare of students and teachers. There is a likelihood that as many teachers as students are also engaging in social ills. 

Education system

The many education commissions in Kenya have focused on changing education systems rather than the learning environment. Likewise, every time there is a nasty incident in school, a high delegation of educational officers is released to investigate the causes. Unfortunately, the findings vis-à-vis the reports of Quality Assurance Officers (QASO) are either not acted on or they never go beyond the administrative arm of the ministry at county level. 

Education in Kenya is frustrating. So many have graduated from university but they are not employed. They are at home and the students in high school are noticing this. A school leaver experiences a lot of hurdles to start a self-employment activity. Apart from lack of capital to start a business, one must get so many permits and licenses. It is even worse if one desires to establish a production unit. The approvals required are just discouraging. There is limited support for upcoming entrepreneurs and innovators. 

To enable self-employment, education should focus on specialization and technical courses. This kind of training can help young people to earn a livelihood with minimal capital investment. Thanks to low tuition fees in the TVET institutions a number of form four leavers are acquiring essential skills. The main corporates do not rely on higher education degrees but the relevance of training.

It is hoped Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) will transform the way we look at education. CBC should not be another populist educational programme like 8-4-4 in the name of leaving a political legacy. More so, CBC should be made affordable.. There are so many instructional materials to be regularly supplied to schools by parents. Majority of these resources are not ‘freely’ and ‘locally’ available and parents have to purchase them despite of the poverty levels among Kenyans. 

Dr Wanjohi is an educationist, currently a lecturer at Kenyatta University. [email protected]


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