In-depth training of student council boosts schools’ governance

A capacity building of the Student Council members of Kyondoni Girls in Kitui, recently. PHOTO/Courtesy of Victor Ochieng’.

Mr. Philip Maina Waweru, the Chief Principal of Jomo Kenyatta Boys in Nakuru, understands the essence of having a strong student council in place.

It is one of the practical ways used to curb chaos and silence the spate of strikes that sometimes rocks secondary schools.

This astute administrator thrives because a well-trained student council props him up.

Council as the bridge

When student council members are taken through a well-thought-out training program, they eventually act as the bridge between the administration and the student body.

Tremendous training and tutelage make them understand the two metaphors: they are the ‘eyes’ and the ‘ears’ of the administration.

Mr. Waweru, a father figure and our classic case, achieves this ambit by ensuring that through guided democracy – conjunction of selection and election – they get visionary student leaders who are not populists and puppets per se who understand the true definition of leadership.

As Dr. John C. Maxwell aptly puts it: Leadership is the power to influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Of course, that influence must be positive, or else things will wend south.

Student leaders should use their positions of power and influence to shape the acceptable conduct and character of students.

This is achieved when they act as role models and mentors in the school.

This cannot come to pass without in-depth training and guidance.

Training Framework

An in-depth training program should make the student council have a correct concept of leadership.

They should be trained in specific and general roles.

The trainer(s) should shed a bright light on legendary leadership styles and skills.

The student council should know the qualities of effective council members and the grievous goofs they should shun. They should also be informed of the chilling challenges leaders face.

It is also imperative to explore challenges that bedevil schools plus possible solutions.

Student leaders should be trained on disaster management and mitigation measures.

They should know how to keep their school safe and conducive to learning.

They should be sensitized on the principles of punishment.

Because the student council helps the Deputy Principal (administration) enforce discipline in the school, the trainers should explore forms of discipline and examples of indiscipline cases that should be fought with unprecedented ferocity.

The student council should be trained on the fundamentals of collaboration, communication and wonderful ways of convening effective meetings.

Over and above, they should know how to strike a beautiful balance between leadership and academics.

They are taken through stupendous study strategies: enhancement of content mastery, retention techniques and exam preparation skills.

Perks and Privileges

Focusing on our case study, through the astute arrangement of the Chief Principal Jomo Kenyatta Boys, God’s Pen Consultancy has been contacted twice to induct and train the student council.

We have also trained several councils in counties across the country.

Jomo Kenyatta Boys, in particular, has proved spectacular and peculiar.

Unlike other schools, which only dedicate a few hours to this pertinent process, the able leadership of Jomo Kenyatta Boys sanctifies three days for it.

The Chief Principal understands how to boost the morale and motivation of young men who help him steer the school towards the stunning shores of success.

Through this training program, he hits several birds with one stone.

The training is welded well with a trip to Bomas in Nakuru county.

After the two-day training, they go for an exquisite excursion to see the scenic Subukia Shrines.

During the training, he satiates the enormous appetite of teens through the provision of yummy meals – good food.

Certificates, badges, and unique uniforms are issued at the tail-end of the training.

The pleasant principal makes the council understand some of the perks and privileges they will enjoy while working.

He assures them that there will be both verbal and written commendations for members who will stand out during that short stint.

The principal encourages teachers to praise prefects in public but correct them privately.

The school sets aside a small office for the school captain and his assistant and provides a place where weekly council meetings can be convened.

Role of the Council

During the training, the student leaders are apprised of their responsibilities (response plus abilities) in the school.

They are commissioned to be both effective and efficient.

Being ‘effective’ means that they become skillful in dealing with fellow students and teachers.

But being ‘efficient’ implies that they get to know how to handle the tools of work put at their disposal.

In their general roles as student leaders, they should provide guidance, motivate and inspire other students.

They should ensure there is cordial coordination in the school.

They should initiate action in the school by ensuring that the routine is followed to the letter.

In addition, student leaders should marvelously represent their school.

When out of school, en route home, they should conduct themselves with due dignity and decorum.

For instance, dressing decently and avoiding immoral, criminal, and aberrant behavior is usually quite rampant among some mal-adjusted teenagers.

Student leaders should represent their school well by attaining epic and peak academic performance.

Way Forward (Action Plan)

In the whole scheme of things, in-depth training is concluded with some way forward or action plan.

Student leaders are given appointment letters congratulating them and spelling out the terms of reference – a giant list of duties.

They take a solemn oath into office, making a public pronouncement that they shall not betray the administration; come rain, come shine.

Every member is given a copy of school rules and regulations to be stashed in the file for sporadic reference.

They are challenged to develop sub-rules in their respective dockets.

Everyone is asked to formulate five novel ideas.

Senior members of the council are advised to ensure that there is a duty rota and calendar of events.

The council is guided on how to convene weekly meetings and regular briefings.

Finally, after the training, every member is asked to pen a letter addressing the Chief Principal through the Deputy Administration, capturing three thrilling things: One, what has been learned.

Two, how it is going to be implemented.

Three, the promise as student leaders and finally, things to be grateful about.

The writer trains student leaders in schools – Prefects, Peer Counsellors, Career Counsellors, Group Leaders and Societies/Movements/Club Officials. His contact:

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