Lobby blames anti-reformists at Ministry as arson wave in schools continues

Infighting at the Education Ministry and non-adherence to the ministry’s guidelines have been cited as the root causes of the latest cases of students unrests.

Ministry officials who have been compromised by the old system are said to be uncomfortable with the reforms being undertaken by the education cabinet secretary and are eager to frustrate his efforts.

Speaking after a close-door meeting with Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’I today, civil societies under the Elimu Yetu Coalition have revealed that some the anti-reforms officials are on a go slow as a way of expressing their displeasure.

“Some of the old guards in the ministry are unhappy with the CS for the reforms he has introduced. They are on a go slow and also using other means to frustrate him. He has closed all the taps they have been enjoying from,” said Janet Ouko, the Elimu Yetu Coalition national coordinator.

Ouko observed that the Basic Education Act has not been implemented leading to several loopholes that have precipitated the unrests.

She cited the continued issuance of mock exams that were abolished in the Act and a cosmetic participation of students and parents in crucial decision making.

“The guidelines abolished mock exams but up to now school heads are still offering them. Students and parents are no longer accommodated while  decisions are made abd especially those that affect them,” said Ouko.

This comes in wake of continued wave of arson attacks in public schools. after four more dormitories were set on fire Sunday night.

Police and the Kenya Red Cross said injuries were reported in one of the arson attacks. The incidents occurred at Baringo High School in Baringo County, St Augustine Boarding Primary School in Mombasa and Gachika Secondary School in Kiganjo.

Similar incidents were reported earlier in the day at Ngaru Girl’s High School, Kirinyaga County, and St Mary’s High School in Narok and Lelwak High School in Nandi County.

Already detectives are investigating if the fire at St Augustine Primary School in Tudor Mombasa was related to the wave of unrest in secondary schools countrywide.

More than 100 schools have in the last months experience arson cases with different stakeholders shifting blame to various factors.

They have backed the decision of the CS not to close schools prematurely saying that would be a dangerous precedent to students who at times go on strike on flimsy grounds.

“We are fully behind Dr. Matiangi decision who have refused to close schools prematurely. That would set a dangerous precedent to our students,” added Ouko.

The lobby now says it has laid out a comprehensive 13 policy guideline which it will be presenting to the ministry once after every two months as a remedy to unrests to schools.

They want the ministry to reconstitute the National Parents Association after the Musau Ndunda -led association was abolished early in January.

According to the lobbys chairperson Daniel Wesonga, their policies will also be geared towards generating evidence of other possible root causes of unrests by students.

“The policies framework we shall share with the ministry shall include unearthing evidence of unrests not only dealing on symptoms,” said Wesonga.

Wesonga noted that they will also be unmasking cartels in managements that have been looting or misappropriating government funds.

“Someone will have to explain how they have been using the funds,” he stated.

CS Matiang,i who chaired the closed door meeting declined to speak to the media only saying that ‘civil societies shall continue working with the government’

He has fastracted various reforms in the education sector including change of term calendars and curtailing exam cheats.

Teachers unions have opposed some of the reforms claiming they have led to the cases of arson.

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