Employ holistic approach to curb unrest, arson in schools

A dormitory at Kakamega High School burning on November 6, 2021. PHOTO/Courtesy.

On this matter of safety of students in schools, aside from building structures and enforcing standards, and ensuring discipline, there is more to the story, at least from my point of view.

Students are human beings and are animals like all others.

When one packs too many animals (any animals) in limited space, their stress levels rise and any small thing can trigger reactions that can lead to devastating consequences.

Another aspect is that of the numbers (absolute numbers) of people that can be packed into what can be termed a ‘school community’.

Back in time I read about corporations (big pharmaceuticals, technology firms, among others) building campuses that did not exceed a certain number.

It turns out that, past optimal sizes, the bonds among residents weaken to a degree where ‘loyalty’ and ‘duty’ to each other fade away.

In other words, to an individual, the rest of the population become just that: statistics or numbers.

Where bonds are strong, residents feel that they are part of a community and are obligated to each other and hence act responsibly!

It is not news that a lot of such studies have been based on bees and beehives.

My question is: at what threshold of population do the bees decide to split?

I would like to hear what anthropologists, sociologists and other experts have to say about this.

For example, what amount of space (square footage) per person is optimal for school populations?

Secondly, what are the optimal sizes of populations we can pack in one school campus?

On the last point, check campuses (even universities) in many countries – residences are build to house only so many numbers and then those residences have reasonable distances from each other.

School campuses are also build with community perspectives – thus (for instance in universities) one finds say School of Humanities, School of Engineering, School of Business, name them, all built as self-contained ‘communities’.

They separately have classrooms, office space, cafeteria, even bars and other amenities.

In Kenya, and especially with the 100% transition policy, we pack kids like sardines – in dormitories (where you find as little as six inches separating bed bunks), in classes (where classes built for 40 can take as many as 60!) and in playing fields (where there is no enough space for all to play different games).

Dr. Matunda Nyanchama. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Worse still are the abolutions – toilet and bathroom facilities hardly match the number they serve and become major health hazards, let alone the nauseating effect they have on users!

My view is that hard tackle techniques will not solve the problem unless they are part of a comprehensive wholesome approach that incorporates such thinking as I have espoused here.

We need to implement mechanisms for early detection of trouble and ways of controlling it before it explodes.

My view (and perhaps other people’s theory) is a 4-stage model: prevention, detection, response – where things get out of hand and review/repair/self- improvement.

You can also read Government bows to pressure, announces mid-term break for secondary school students

Primary school learners included for half term break

Fire incidents in schools cause anxiety

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Dr Nyanchama is an IT Specialist, Safety and Security Trainer. He is the proprietor and CEO of Nsemia Inc. Publishers (Canada and Kenya). His contact: matunda@gmail.com


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