AFRICA/KENYA - Arson attacks in schools: bishops want to better accompany students

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "We need to review ways of maintaining discipline in our schools through deliberate coordinated efforts of correction, mentorship, counselling and effective chaplaincy ministry", said the bishops of the Bishops' Conference of Kenya (KCCB) on the arson that continue to occur in schools across the country. "Parents should be more involved and sensitized in the educational process", reads the note from the KCCB sent to Fides. The episodes referred to by the prelates have led to the closure of dozens of educational institutions in the country, damage and loss of property. According to the statement, the possible causes behind the arson, include drug abuse, peer pressure and other stresses exerted on learners by the compressed academic calendar. "We appeal to learners to raise their grievances in constructive ways and to desist from destroying their classrooms, dormitories and other property in their schools" In a spirit of communion, Church leaders have called on the Ministry of Education, the Teachers' Service Commission (TSC) to all interested parties, including churches that sponsor schools "to have regular consultative fora to address emerging issues", adding that the role of sponsors includes among others 'values, morals and enhancing a conducive environment for learning in institutions of learning'. For her part, the Catholic Church continues to advocate the promotion of appropriate counseling and spiritual support programs, which are considered essential for all educational institutions. The prelates also suggested that boards of directors, principals and school officials "be empowered and assisted to deal with cases of extreme indiscipline" and that "all must make a conscious, visible and effective effort to eliminate the 'access to alcohol and drugs in schools'. "
"In addition to the lack of discipline, we must address the issues of worship and radicalization in schools, as well as the challenges related to mental health", declared the Bishops, who appealed to students to express their complaints constructively, knowing that they are loved and cared for and that education is the key to their future. The prelates urged everyone involved "to listen to the students and to take care of their problems". Church leaders are calling on Kenyans to keep faith and hope alive despite the many challenges the country is facing, including "political campaigns that started ahead of schedule, unfair electoral practices including fraud and manipulation of upcoming general elections". (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 24/11/2021)