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DCI to keep records of students involved in criminal conduct

Investigators will collect and store information on students involved in criminal conduct as the country witnesses a disturbing wave of juvenile delinquency that has seen teachers, staff and fellow students attacked and injured and property worth millions of shillings lost in arson.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) now says that apart from prosecuting students involved in criminal activities, information on them and charges preferred against them will be archived and produced on their police clearance certificate, potentially ruining their chances of employment.

“Let each student be informed that it will automatically be reflected on the police clearance certificate when such a student will apply for one,” the DCI said on its official Twitter handle.

Among the offences the DCI lists for criminal profiling are armed and violent demonstrations, arson, drugs, cyber-bullying, assault and drunkenness. It will affect students in all institutions of learning.

“This will be a permanent criminal mark that will bar many students from achieving their goals, as no employer of worth will dare employ such characters,” the post reads.

Since they reopened in January, schools have been hit by a wave of violence that has seen a number of students charged in the courts.

Education stakeholders have raised concerns over the trend that some attribute to the 10-month school break forced by the outbreak of Covid-19.

According to Mr John Mugo, the executive director of Zizi Afrique Foundation, some students may find it difficult to adjust to the school routine, having stayed for 10 months without any structured programme to adhere to. He called on teachers to be “extra-observant” and note changes in students’ behaviour.

“You haven’t been with this person for so long. You are not with the same person that left in March and so you cannot use the same rules that you used then,” Dr Mugo said.

Poor parenting

While about 70 percent of the students might adapt to the abrupt change, the rest might not. “It’s this 30 percent that will cause trouble in school.”

Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Kahi Indimuli has blamed the indiscipline on poor parenting and the Children’s Act, which he said was adopted without regulations on how to implement it in schools.

“The biggest problem is that a majority of our students returned to school with characters they did not have before. They acquired new traits at home because no one was monitoring them. Now they are lacking the freedom they had when schools were closed. Being told ‘no’ at school becomes a point of conflict,” he said.

He said some parents abdicated their responsibilities in the management of their children, who now find it hard to cope with the strict school routine.

Mr Indimuli said the Children’s Act has “tied the hands of teachers and parents” without putting into consideration the modalities of handling children while at home and in school.

Mr Indimuli, the principal of Machakos School, suggested the formulation of a code of conduct for students that spells out the consequences of delinquency in school.

Last week, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha also blamed incidents of students attacking teachers on parents, accusing them of failing to instil good morals in their children.

“They don’t give them even one percent of tough love. What they give is what I’d call stupid love. For nine months, the child has gone home and you’re treating him like an egg and then you expect the principal to instil discipline. What do you think is going to happen? Students who fight teachers should be severely punished,” said Prof Magoha. He asked teachers to take care of themselves while dealing with such students.

To avert students’ unrest in schools, Dr Mugo suggested a review of discipline methods by understanding the causes of the learners’ deviant behaviour.