LET OLD ORDER PREVAIL IN SCHOOLS PENDING CONSULTATIONS:
Two months ago, the government announced stringent measures including change in term dates and abolition of traditions like visiting and prayers ahead of exams in third term ostensibly to curb exam cheating in our schools. Teachers and non-candidates will also be required to stay away from schools during the conduct of national exams.
It is evident that these radical measures were taken without adequate consultations and they have backfired.
Teachers in particular are so critical to the success of education policies that no competent government can imagine proceeding with its theories against their advice as is the case today.
Besides, students are feeling unnecessarily targeted in the so-called war against cheating. There is no justification whatsoever for non-candidates to stay at home during exams and for candidates to sit exams without the benefit of having access to their teachers in between the papers.
The criminalization of students and isolation of teachers is evident in the composition of the committee to investigate unrest in schools which comprises administrators in the Office of the President, CID, Inspector General of Police and bureaucrats in TSC and Ministry of Education. In the meantime, schools are burning each day and the safety of our children in schools is not assured amid loud silence from top levels of government. We need to see the following measures: The government must immediately abandon this gamble with the life of our children in schools and take practical steps to stem the tide of destruction of school infrastructures that will cost parents dearly.
1. The government must stop turning our children and teachers into suspects and criminals in the name of curbing cheating.
2. Jubilee must deal with the problem of cheating from where it starts: the Kenya National Examinations Council which is the organization charged with the setting, safekeeping and administration of exams. KNEC is the body that should produce the suspects and the people to go to jail when exams are leaked. It is the body that we should be investigating and reforming, not the candidates, the students and the teachers. The teachers, candidates and parents being targeted today are victims of the corruption and institutional failure at KNEC.
3. The government must immediately abandon the authoritarian policies it is adopting, announce a return to the old order that also respects the unique traditions of various schools pending detailed consultations with parents, teachers, Boards of Governors, PTAs, KNUT and KUPPET.
4. The government must assure Kenyans of the safety of their children in schools and be ready to take responsibility for any harm that may occur to those children in these unfortunate fire incidents.
RAILA ODINGA; EGH
CORD COALITION/ ODM PARTY LEADER
JULY 27, 2016.