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Why MP wants errant students to be ‘held’ in isolation

An MP from Kakamega county is proposing a controversial policy shift that will see errant students no longer jailed for burning schools, but isolated to learn under stricter conditions.

National Assembly Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali argues the misconduct of students while in school does not mean they are criminals but should only be restricted.

Now the Jubilee MP says he is preparing a motion to be tabled in the National Assembly and which will compel the government to provide sufficient and regular funding for selected schools where misbehaving students can learn.

He is proposing that each county to have one such school, similar to the Approved schools of yesteryear where errant children were sent to study under tight watch.

This way, he argues, the education of these children will be uninterrupted, while at the same time saving schools the damage caused by their wayward behaviour.

ARRESTED LEARNERS

Mr Washiali, who spoke at Lubinu Primary School in his Mumias East constituency, said arresting learners and subjecting them to taking fingerprints was qualifying them to become criminals.

“Let us not accustom children to criminality by arresting them, taking fingerprints and convicting them. We are ruining our future society,” said Mr Washiali.

This proposal, he says, will address the current situation where some schools have seen losses due to fires caused by students on the rampage.

By isolating the perpetrators of such acts, the MP argues, will forestall the spread of such negative influence and also ensure that their education is not interrupted.

This, however, is based on an assumption that authorities can pick out the culprits and isolated them when in fact behavior of students may also be influenced by the conditions at school or pressures they face during exams.

ARRAIGNED IN COURT

In western region alone, 54 students have been arrested and arraigned in court with charges of arson in their schools. The Ministry of Education says the act was criminal and has gone on to suggest punitive measures such as labelling disciplinary records on their leaving certificates.

At least 16 schools in Busia, Kakamega and Busia counties have been faced with cases of students setting fire on their dormitories.

In Kakamega, 10 students from St Mary’s Girls and two boys from Lubinu in Mumias while 10 more from Makhokho Boys plus seven from Silungai Secondary in Malava were arraigned in court with charges of arson.

Mumias Children’s Officer Dorcas Wakasa said some of the students who were arrested are above the age of 18 years and are being treated as adults.

“These ones (over 18 years) are put into the main prison together with other criminals. Furthermore, arson is a criminal offense in nature and should not be tolerated by anybody,” Ms Wakasa said.