Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) boss Wilson Sossion on Monday, August 3, became the most prominent voice to support the abolition of boarding schools in Kenya.
The nominated MP penned an opinion piece explaining why he believed it was time to abolish boarding schools, stating that they had outlived their usefulness.
“It is time to reform our education system to be 100% day schools in the basic level from kindergarten to Grade 12, and be accessed at the local level,” he asserted.
Sossion referenced the colonial history of boarding schools in Kenya, stating that it was time to have an education system responsive to the unique needs of Kenya and its people in the 21st century.
The union boss argued that the time when boarding schools were built to provide a conducive environment for African learners was long gone. He explained that he wanted them scrapped and replaced with a localised system that focuses on accessible learning institutions.
He described boarding schools in the country as a security hazard, given the numerous cases of student unrest and violence reported over the years.
He observed that a key recommendation of a team formed to investigate a spate of cases of school unrest in 2016 was that day schooling be made more attractive through adequate funding and provision of qualified, motivated teachers.
He further accused boarding schools of contributing to indigenous cultural extinction and illiteracy.
Sossion admitted that the government had acted on past recommendations to introduce boarding schools in arid and semi-arid areas.
He observed, however, that this bred inequality as some parents were unable to afford the cost of taking their children to boarding schools.
Sossion also cited Daystar University lecturer Dr Wandia Njoya who was written extensively on the topic arguing that boarding schools in Kenya inculcate elitism and corrupted young minds.
Sossion further stated that boarding schools contributed to disintegration within families. He cited Child Psychologist Professor Catherine Gachutha, who argues that the role of the family in a child’s formative years cannot be duplicated by an educator.
“The socio-psychological effects of parental separation with their children at a tender age extend into adulthood and manifest as violent or abusive people, emotional detachment and passive-aggressive behaviour,” he wrote.
In addition, Sossion observed that it was costlier to run boarding schools in the country despite there being more learners in day schools.
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