OPINION: How adults are burning schools, and blaming it on our teenagers

A section of Bungoma high. Photo: Courtesy

The past one week has witnessed massive destruction of property in Kenya, with high school students accounting for a better part of the destruction.

Hell broke loose on the night of Saturday 23rd January, barely three weeks after learning had resumed in schools.

Kenyans woke up to news that Chesamisi Boy’s High School students had pelted teachers’ cars with stones, razed down dormitories as well as other property within the school.

St. Luke’s Kimilili Boys’ followed in quick succession, and the malady spread like bushfire within Bungoma county,and in Rift Valley.

With six schools within the county closed indefinitely and the fire incidents ostensibly here to stay, various education stakeholders have weighed in, majority concurring with Education CS Professor George Magoha’s proposal for corporal punishment.

But come, let us reason. Who is to blame for the unrest in schools? Will corporal punishment restore sanity in schools; or has there been sanity in schools, to begin with?

As Warren Buffet, an American investor once put it, facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. Probably here, we need an historian to walk us memory lane in order to understand the beginning of inferno in learning institutions. Perhaps then, the media was not there to report, or the problem was treated as mild, then.

However, unruliness in schools seems to have eclipsed social violence orchestrated by the society itself, which has now forgotten or rather ignored the log in their own eyes, and now pointing out a spec in students’ eyes.

Monopoly over violence

Further, grown-ups in the society think that they have the monopoly over violence, thus playing ignorant to social learning theory, a theory of learning process and social behavior which proposes that new behaviors can be acquired by observing and imitating others.

How do we present our grievances whenever we feel aggrieved by the government, or any higher authority? We definitely barricade roads and set tyres on fire in expressing our anger or dissatisfaction.

In cases where we are avenging our beloved ones, we in broad daylight murder the suspects and destroy their property, without allowing for investigations and due legal process? And how often, my fellow grown-ups, do we send away the teenagers when we are about to do this? Never!

“The particular factors the child thinks are important vary from situation to situation, depending on variables such as which situational factors are operating, which causes are most salient, and what the child processes cognitively…” writes Patricia H. Mille, in her book Theories of Developmental Psychology.

Why is it then wrong if the children we raise on grounds of anarchy prove to us that they can grasp our teachings? Since there are no roads to barricade in schools, no tyres to burn, our children misplace their anger on the infrastructure- a true reflection of ourselves.


Let’s stop the hypocrisy and take the bull by the horns; the buck stops with the society. You cannot have your cake and eat it.

The idea of psychological counselling, is acceptable. But it should be mentioned during the sessions that the learners are being counselled because of the images their parents have subjected them to.

Antony Nyongesa is a journalist at Sasa Radio, and author.






About the Author

Antony Nyongesa
I'm an avid reader, a novelist, producer and journalist with a nose for news. Mine is to tell the truth; truth and nothing but the truth.