Closing schools and throwing striking students in jail will do little in reversing the exponential trend of strikes in our schools in this country. Let us examine the root cause first.
By Moses Bina
trueClosing schools and throwing striking students in jail will do little in reversing the exponential trend of strikes in our schools in this country. Let us examine the root cause first.
You cannot say the root cause of a strike is witchcraft, planned fees increment, suspension of students who assaulted a security guard, stringent school regulations, poor feeding, sanitation, renting out a school bus, among many other reasons advanced. If everything is taken for granted and these are taken to be the causes of strikes in schools in this country, then we are bound to have many more strikes in the same schools over similar causes.
In my view, some of these could be the root causes of strikes in schools:
1. Absence of the spirit of patriotism. In an environment where the school administrators do not have any trace of patriotism, it is clear the students will not have any access to such a great resource necessary for national development. School administrators are working because they have something to gain at the end of the day not necessarily because their services are needed for national development. They go ahead to create the impression they own these schools as their personal projects. Why are these students not allowed to corporately own their schools? Why is it that it is the strike which should wake up the school administration? During my high school days in Kiira College Butiki, we had a sense of corporate ownership of the school created into our minds; standing on this platform, we jealously guarded our school against any form of setback, nobody ever thought of a violent strike, no thought of destruction ever crossed our minds; thank God for the then headmaster John Richard Isabirye. Today, head teachers forget that they are just stewards of these institutions; they take them for personal projects satisfying their ego and keeping off key stake holders (the parents, surrounding community, teachers and students). Introducing these young stars to informal and formal patriotism classes at an early stage can help reduce on the number of strikes. Patriotism can be achieved in its reality only if the administration lives up to those standards. The head teachers should use their schools as platforms to propagate philosophies for national development. Whatever goes on in schools should be in line with the national strategy. As long as the head teachers continue to spread their own philosophies for selfish gains, no sense of corporate ownership will be developed in the minds of these students.
2. Incoherent and poor administration; where administrators fail to take a similar position on certain issues resulting in the inability to communicate corporate decisions regardless of individual opinions. Such loopholes are always exploited by cunning students. They take advantage of the unsuspecting head and in the quest for a solution to a problem which seems to puzzle even some members of staff, they end up doing what they think is right. Therefore, as a long term strategy in our schools, we shall need the appointment of competent administrators with proven integrity who in turn command high moral authority besides the title authority and power to suspend and expel students.
3. The role model effect; politicians, civil society groups, religious leaders and other opinion leaders riot and go un punished; in the next few years, the trend of strikes will multiply as the pupils who are now in primary cross over to secondary schools because their environment has been full of strikes by the said groups of people. They have now gone through systematic sensitisation and now believe beyond doubt that issues can only be solved by violent means. Therefore, the Members of Parliament, celebrities and other opinion-leaders should know how to conduct themselves in public since the young stars want to behave like them.
The writer is the Executive Director at Iganga Vocational Training Institute.
The trend of school strikes can be reversed