The death of discipline among students - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 20 February 2021

The death of discipline among students


This week began with Kenyans joining the rest of the world in marking the iconic Valentine’s Day last Sunday. As usual, pomp, red colours and glamour accompanied the fete. The aura of love rose into the skies above both city and country as the society enjoyed a much-needed break from the din of politics and the pandemic.

It is in this context that I remembered a story from my memory today. Last year, at such a time, I took a trip to the western parts of our country. It is there that many of my paternal relatives reside. A remarkable moment happened upon me on the final day of my visit to the parents. It revolved around the woman who has given the longest love in my life — my mother Mary Makokha.

We were seated at the front with the driver in a shuttle, cruising the Chinese-built Kitale-Webuye road. My plan was to top up our familial moments together with a supermarket gift for her before taking off to the city county. I recall like it were yesterday being sandwiched between the driver and her in the shuttle with its 20-odd passengers and massive goods (and a rooster, too), blaring Wasafi Records tunes.

At one point, the chatty driver took a bend in the road like a Formula One champion. Of course an admonishment left the palate of my mother as we collided into each other due to the motions of the tight curve.

The driver apologised casually and distracted her by pointing out at an uncollected dead body of a child. It had been knocked down by a hit-and-run earlier in the day and still rested still on the shoulder of the road. The driver pointed out that he was the one who saw the dead body first just a moment after the accident. It is him who reported the matter to a nearby police post.

I saw my mother ease her rising temper and look at the dangerous driver of ours with a kind of respect. She turned to me and informed me that it is a good thing to tell another the moment one views the dead body of a human.

In other words, you should never pass the dead body of a human, even a child, without reporting its presence to a figure of authority, or to other humans. It can attract ill luck in life or worse. I recognise her very strong roots in the Catholic Church.

She is the descendant of one of the early converts to the faith in the early part of the 20th Century. So this rather traditional or superstitious belief being held dear by her left me a bit startled. I learned yet another important lesson from her on that previous Valentine’s Day, just before the coronavirus arrived with death from Wuhan.

It is important to show love and care to humans even when they are dead or strangers to us. Humanity is the epitome of love. It is so even in the mainstream religion, where the creator is synonymous with pure love and we humans were made in His image. Love is love is love.

Today, as our young ones play hide and seek with a terrible virus in the context of schooling, it helps to think a bit deeper about the idea of death or love in the times of death. The image of the dead child on the shoulder of a brand new Chinese road out there in Western Kenya returns.

The virus of death from China kept our children away from school for two terms between the Valentine's Days of last year and this year. This is the longest time that most of the current school goers have ever been off school. Some lost their lives in that break.

Some lost their guardians and providers. Some lost their families and homes. More heartbreakingly, some lost their love for the place they used to spend the most of times of the calendar year: the school.

In Kenya, school goers spent nine months of the year in schools. The three terms of the year are only interspersed with three one-month breaks in April, August and December. With the ongoing education reforms, November has been added to the end-of-year break.

Accurately, therefore, eight months of the year are spent in school and only four at home, especially for boarders. The recent upsurge in the burning of dormitories — boarding school dwellings — may pass for the usual arson trends witnessed before major national examinations in Kenya.

However, pundits are commenting that students should be on their best behaviour after the long Covid break. Have they not been home longest with their parents, guardians and immediate families? Unlike the time when they spend eight months away from their close relatives and live under the watch of teachers, this time should have portrayed better behaviour results.

It is in this context that I lament this week. The death of the young is the death of the future. The death of discipline among the young is worrisome. It marks the dead-end of the road of love. When that death of discipline or decline in love for schooling soars higher among the youth, what are we supposed to say?

Perhaps we can keep quiet and observe as teachers and the government rein in the chaos. Or we can report the dead body of discipline among the young to other humans. Such a report will lead to a candid national discussion about the role of adult love and care in mitigating the death of positive values among the youth.


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