Kuppet asks government to abolish boarding schools

A student at Nyeri High School

A student at Nyeri High School on January 13, 2020.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has called for abolishment of boarding schools as a way of curbing indiscipline and school fires.

Kuppet acting Secretary-General Moses Nthurima on Thursday said children in boarding schools suffer from increased stress levels. He urged the government to consider turning the existing ones into day schools.

“Boarding schools have been overtaken by time. It is a colonial idea. We cannot sustain them. What we need is free and compulsory education for all learners,” said Mr Nthurima.

He said the government should only focus on categorising schools in terms of private-owned and public.

“The value of education does not lie in the national schools or in boarding schools, but in the quality of education being offered in the country,” he said.

Mr Nthurima said boarding schools are currently a cause of fear among teachers and parents as they are uncertain of the security of learners.

In the recent past, there has been a wave of unrest in boarding secondary schools.

There are more than 4,000 boarding schools in the country according to data from the Ministry of Education.

A 2018 attempt by the government to establish day wings in 19 national schools in Nairobi did not bear fruit as most parents later transferred their children to boarding schools.

Schools that had been selected for the day wing included: Kenya High School, Starehe Boys' Centre, Moi Forces Academy, Nairobi School, Lenana School, Pangani Girls’ High School, Moi Girls' Secondary School in Nairobi.

Some schools such as Starehe Boys' Centre refused to admit day scholars citing unpreparedness. Other schools such as Moi Forces Academy expressed fears of indiscipline in schools as teachers may not be able to control the students

Kuppet has also called on the government to employ professional counsellors for each school to deal with students' affairs and inform administrative procedures within the institutions.

Mr Nthurima said a school must have at least one counsellor and, for schools with more than 1,000 learners, the Teachers Service Commission should deploy more than two professionals.

Kuppet said the unrest in schools and cases of learners attacking teachers are worrying and called for urgent interventions.

In the past, taskforces created over student indiscipline recommended the establishment of functional guidance and counselling departments in schools to help in maintaining emotional balance.

The reports also recommended abolishment of mock examinations, increased involvement of students in decision making and identifying gaps in policy gaps.

The two reports, released in 2001 and in 2016, also asked the government to train members of school boards on education management.