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Exam pressure linked to underage drinking

Kenyans are putting too much pressure on their children to perform well in school, forcing them into alcoholism, experts say.

The pressure to excel is so great that children lack time to play, according to Prof Munyae Mulinge, a lecturer at the United States International University-Africa’s department of social sciences.

“There is something wrong with our school system as parents and teachers want the children to get good grades,” he said yesterday during the launch of a campaign against underage drinking, at Serena Hotel in Nairobi.

The drive, initiated by Kenya Breweries Ltd, is called Under 18 Asipewe.

Consumption of alcohol by underage people, mainly among schoolchildren, is worrying, according to a report titled Underage Drinking in Kenya that was released before the campaign launch.

The report was prepared by research firm Ipsos Synovate with the help of the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse and the Students’ Campaign Against Drugs, a youth organisation.

It shows that a majority of the underage alcohol consumers had their first drink at between 12 and 16 years.

Most of the respondents said they received their first drink from their friends and relatives. Peer pressure was mentioned as the main force driving underage drinking.

The research was conducted in secondary schools, according to Mr Godwin Asiimwe of Ipsos.

Knut Secretary-General, Wilson Sossion concurred that schoolchildren are stressed.

“Children are always overloaded with work and this started when the 8-4-4 system was introduced, which happened without the consultation of all stakeholders,” Mr Sossion said.

The union had been advising the Education ministry to review the curriculum to make it friendlier to learners, he added.