Destruction Of Schools

November 16, 2021

The country experienced a wave of destruction of school property four years ago, by students burning the schools to the ground. The blame was heaped on teachers who were being very strict on students and not catering to their needs. After a lot of intervention by the Ministry of Education and the heads of school administrations, the fires stopped. The damage, however, was enormous and cost a great deal of money to restore.

It is very sad to see that the same wanton destruction of property at the schools has recently, started again. It began with one school, but to date, 31 schools have been burnt down. The perpetrators start the fires in the dormitories, so the students will not have a place to sleep and must be sent home. It has become clear, that the fires are started by the students, not by outsiders, as earlier suspected. Students at one particular school, for instance, were caught siphoning fuel from the school bus, so they could start a fire. Once a school is set on fire, the students must be sent home; unfortunately, injuries and deaths have occurred. In one of the recent fires, videos of girls jumping from the 3rd floor of their dormitories were circulated all over social media. Many of these girls were injured attempting to get to safety.

The busy school calendar has been blamed for the sudden school fires. Since the Covid pandemic, the school calendar was disrupted, and students have had to catch up with the syllabus after missing out on large portions of it by being home. Since schools have now resumed, students all over the country have been on a busy schedule trying to catch up with all the curriculum they missed. The long break at home during Covid, which was roughly 7 months, also caused laxity in many of the students. When schools resumed, many students were not willing to go back to school. Those that were forced to resume their studies did so begrudgingly, thus begging the question, are these the ones causing the fires?

The national final examinations for the Form 4’s and the Standard 8 students will be held in March, next year. The school calendar runs up to the 23rd of December for most students. They will be home for less than two weeks, reporting back to school on the 3rd of January 2022. Many students feel this holiday is too short, and there have been many complaints from students that they are not getting enough rest, and from the parents, as well.

When a school is burnt down, it takes a long time to rebuild the structures. Funding for this kind of construction is hard to come by. The schools are given a budget to run with the whole year, so getting additional funding for such eventualities becomes an uphill task.

The schools are blaming the parents who have brought up their students without instilling discipline. The administration leaders have pointed out that since corporal punishment was stopped at schools, discipline levels have gone down. The school heads and some clergy have requested that corporal punishment be reintroduced in the schools to maintain order. The parents and the Ministry of Education are debating back and forth about the best way to move forward, with each maintaining their stand.

Drugs and alcohol abuse have been highly blamed for the burning of schools. A student was recently expelled from school. He ran away from school to go home and check on the marijuana he had planted. Unknown to the parents, during the short break, he planted marijuana in family land that is vacant and unused, so he could monitor the progress. It was a shock to the parents when the child admitted what he had done, but it took the intervention of the police before he confessed. Certain students will sneak drugs into the school, encouraging other students to participate in drug use, and eventually, these students get involved in bad habits.

We are glad to report that none of the schools where we offer the Choice Club mentorship program has been burnt down. We maintain our message to the students to take care of their learning environment and seek ways to communicate any grievances they have, amicably, without causing destruction to school property.

The parents of the students caught causing the fires, are already having a hard time paying tuition fees, and now must incur additional expenses to pay for the destruction caused at the school. Any student implicated in the burning of a school is arrested; their parents are forced to pay costs towards the destruction, and the students are not allowed back in school or any other school for that matter. These students are required to sit their exams from home.





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