The madness of burning schools that has gripped the country in the recent past is a clear manifestation of a deadly fight against the drastic positive changes being implemented in the education sector since Dr. Fred Matiang’i took the mantle.
The madness which so far has affected more than 120 schools across the country clearly erupted soon after Dr. Matiang’i took a no
nonsense tough stand and started implementing recommendations by a government task force aimed at improving
the quality of education in the country. This is a madness of the highest order because why should a sane person in his/her right set an innocent building on fire? Why should he/her incite equally innocent students to execute the nefarious actions? Why finance the buying of the fuel to be used in these actions?
What must remain clear is also the fact that the government appointed that task force is the fact that the sector was facing serious problems riven with rot and decay that had accumulated over the years which desperately needed cleaning – apparently that effective broom is Dr. Matiang’i compared to his predecessors in the current administration.
Even as the government has appointed a task force to investigate the madness, what has clearly emerged since the phenomenon began is the fact that there are powerful external forces involved colluding with others internal to execute nefarious actions ostensibly for greedy personal gain.
Topping the list of the critical reasons behind the madness is that the national examinations cheating cartels operatives are involved. What must not be forgotten is the fact that these operatives are characters from outside who have been thriving making millions of shillings annually in leaking the examinations after being paid.
Internally are the teachers of the students most of whom are now being used to torch the schools, particularly dormitories and administration blocks including the head teachers who had perfected the art of collecting the millions to pay out to the external operatives.
Indeed it appears that the godfathers of this leaking cartels were entrenched at the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) where Dr. Matiang’i did not hesitate to crack the whip earlier in the year after it emerged that there was massive examinations leakage, a trend that had been going on for decades by sacking some of the suspects, investigating and taking legal action against the suspected godfathers.
It is also quite clear the exam leaking phenomenon had become a madness that had taken virtually every school in the country with an obsessive stranglehold because of the high stakes involved, therefore like the Sicilian mafia cartels, when you hit them where it hurts – their financial lifelines, they are bound to hit back with equally deadly vengeance and hence the burning phenomenon.
What this state of affairs reveals is the fact that Matiang’i’s against the leakage cartels is working and nuts only need to be tightened and squeezed to the maximum limit to ensure they are rendered extinct once and for all if we are going to restore, sanity, integrity and quality in our educational sector that had been apparently abandoned to the dogs.
If the burning of the schools is a means of intimidating the government to bow down to the whims of some nefarious characters, who are using students to execute these madness, that shows the callous impunity, depth of corruption and death of sanity in a developing world where quality, integrity and honest hard work capped with innovation or inventions are supposed to be our guiding principles.
The government therefore has taken the right firm stand to resist pressure to close down the schools prematurely before the expiry of this term, particularly from the teachers’ unions by Matiang’i firmly stating that the schools will remain open till the official expiry of the term
The weight that has been added on the matter by President Uhuru Kenyatta confirming the same including his deputy and going a step further to warn that the government “will get those behind the burning fires in schools” only means that the education cabinet secretary is on the right track in fighting to bring change in the educational sector.
Apart from the examination leakages, there is the critical question of the administration of our country’s educational institutions which in most cases extremely wanting and has since indeed featured as one of the reasons driving students to burn their dormitories and administration blocks.
The question here is why they only target dormitories and administration blocks and not class rooms, dining halls, teachers’ quarters, and laboratories among other structures that litter many compounds of these institutions.
It is also an open secret that some head teachers in public schools administer these institutions as personal fiefdoms where they do what they want and get away with it, leaving the teachers, the students and even the non-teaching staff to do what they want – hence room for discontent, indiscipline, recklessness and ultimately strikes and fires.
It is no longer news that many head teachers have in the past used students to go on strike and burn administration blocks because there were rotten books of account to be destroyed to get them off the hook and some teachers using students to strike to score their differences with their head teachers – internal wrangles and rotten administration being the problem.
There is no question that there are many in the sector who are resisting the long overdue changes simply because they are thriving on the status quo of a corruption and rot riddled system and any drastic changes means losing out.
The problem does not begin at the schools which are burning out there at the grassroots level. It begins right at the ministry of education headquarters and the Teachers’ Service Commission where these secret corruption cartels are entrenched all the way to the grassroots level.
Therefore within the ministry itself and the TSC there is an urgent need to weed out members of these cartels ruthlessly, because they are also equally ruthless in their deadly secretive operations. The KNEC should not be spared and what has begun should be forensically surgical and with deadly precision and efficiency even as the government introduces promising changes in the education sector.
Indeed it is also an open secret that the rot and decay is not just restricted to the burning secondary schools, but it also permeates the sector right from Primary through the secondary schools to the highest learning public institutions in the country – the universities. How many times a year are our media outlets splashed with stories sex for grades, money for the same, moneyed characters buying others to do the academic works for them? Name it and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Perhaps it is worth mentioning that right from the administrations of retired Presidents Daniel Arap Moi and his successor Mwai Kibaki, Dr. Matiangi’ has since taking over the education mantle emerged as the bravest and most aggressive minister in that ministry ever.
Now with the President’s official public declaration of the government’s war against the perpetrators and secret dons behind the burning of property in public schools, the tempo must also be taken a notch higher and wider to clean up the sector.
At the moment it not must be forgotten that these properties worth billions of shillings that have been destroyed in the ongoing phenomenon are going to be paid for by the parents who also have to pay the fees, their children’s needs including other developments of the same institutions.
Of course Dr. Matiang’i is on record telling the parliamentary committee on education recently that the government will not cough out a single cent to foot the bills for the repairs or reconstruction of the affected facilities and not even a cent from the Constituency Development Fund shall be allowed to do the same.
It must also be a lesson to the students who are used to execute these actions as some of the suspects are being arraigned in court that they must think twice before accepting to be used otherwise they must be ready to carry their own crosses.