Punish 'criminal' students who set fires, senators urge - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 12 February 2021

Punish 'criminal' students who set fires, senators urge


Students who set fires and damage school property are criminals and should be punished harshly as a deterrent.

That's what senators have said of the rash of arson fires, riots, attacks on teachers and other violence and indiscipline.

At least 31 schools have reported fires, mostly arson, since they reopened after a nine-month break because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senators have summoned Education CS George Magoha and the anti-drugs agency chiefs to explain the indiscipline, violence, fires and reports of widespread drug abuse.

They want to know exactly what education and other officials are doing to end the violence and control unruly students.

On Wednesday, nominated senators Petronilla Were and Beatrice Kwamboka sought a statement on the causes of school fires and demanded answers from the Education ministry.

“They should explain the causes of indiscipline that has caused property to be razed by students across the country since the year began," Were said.

“The ministry should spell out spells measures put in place to protect teachers, innocent students, staff and property from being harmed or destroyed by unruly students,” she said

She asked how effective are guidance and counselling in improving discipline.

Schools that have experienced infernos include Koelel High School in Gilgil, Bungoma High School, Kisumu Boys, Masara Secondary School, Bukembe Boys, Kituro High and Kimulot Boys.

Others are Kapsogut Boys, Cheborgei Boys, Oloormirani High,  Karia secondary, Musingu Boys High and Itigo Girls in Nandi county.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr attributed the problems largely to drug abuse.

Why are students who make these mistakes [and set fires] treated like children? No, they should be treated like criminals. 
Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr

He described the burning of schools as a criminal offence and said any student involved should be treated as a criminal and punished according to law.

The age of criminal liability is eight but children are treated more leniently than adults.

“The Education committee must tell these people, if you burn a car on the streets, you have committed a crime. If you are a student and you burn dormitories, you will be treated the same.

“Why are students who make these mistakes treated like children? No, they should be treated like criminals,” Mutula said.

The Senate minority chief whip said some students have become drug peddlers and called for installation of CCTVs cameras in dormitories.

He said he chairs the board of management of a Nairobi school.

“Children sit down, fundraise and buy paraffin and decide who is going to burn. How do you treat this person like a child? How is a student who burns schools and sells bhang treated like a child?” he asked.

Senators Enock Wambua (Kitui) and Okongo Omogeni said children who burn schools or smuggled drugs should be severely punished.

“The punishment for burning schools must be severe so that it serves as a warning and lesson to other children who would want to behave that way.

"When we went to school and made mistakes we were thoroughly beaten and I think that why some of us are here,” Wambua said.

Omogeni blamed the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada), saying the agency has been quiet despite concerns about drug abuse and mayhem.

“I am not seeing any intervention from Nacada. It is possible these students have become part and parcel of drug peddlers. You can only burn schools if you are under the influence of drugs. We should summon Nacada,” he said.

Senate Deputy Speaker Margaret Kamar ordered the Education committee to invite CS Magoha alongside other Education stakeholders to explain their concerns.

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