Slightly above ten years ago, before the promulgation of the new constitution, students leadership in high school was through appointment (at least where I schooled this was the norm). What really happened was those students that the administration felt were fit to lead others would be asked to apply for students leadership positions. Deputy principal would literally call you in office explain every reason you should be a leader and the privileges that came with being a leader.
The list of applicants would then go through vetting by the school management and then eventually leaders were appointed among those who applied. I had a short stint in leadership in my high school hey days. I never applied for the position, I never wanted leadership because I would be perceived as a more among student fraternity. But on the day of announcing leaders I was appointed the second most powerful student in school. Deputy School Captain which is the equal of deputy school president in modern day leadership. I turned down the offer but every teacher wanted me in leadership, students as well. My friend David was the school captain and he convinced me that we could do this together.I took the offer.
Students need to own the school.
It was during my tenor as deputy school captain that students misbehaved the most. They would out rightly defy school regulations and expect to get away with it. I took responsibility for most of them including strokes for the school not observing time. I would be called to explain why students we making noise in class and I would suffer because of these until I downed my tools one day. I literally gave up taking responsibility for crop of students who never took school rules seriously. I was a shame. Until you have a taste of what it means to be in charge, don’t fight to get there. You are better where you are.
Second term, around July, Kenya experiences a dark cloud hovering above our high school students. Report after report of different schools burnt down as students burn their dormitories and destroying property and even causing mayhem in the streets. This is the future generation of voters being trained. Analysts say that these children copy what there parents do.
Communication is key in unlocking stalemates.
In a day school that was governed by the church, I experienced students protests against increase in food prices. The administration had felt the economic pressure and the only way to keep the school running was to increase the price of food up by 50%. Students were not comfortable and they tried every means to maintain the prices in no vain. A go slow on the food was planned and finally the administration agreed to meet the students and reach an amicable solution to the problem. I am proud to associated with the negotiation that melted the protests and food prices were maintained on condition that the size wouldn’t remain the same. We agreed and normalcy prevailed.
What I learnt during this time
Students need to own the school. A clear culture where the students own the property of the school should be instilled. Students need to understand that buses, dormitories and classes do not belong to the administration, these infrastructure is developed for them to improve their lives.There is a clever way to protest like boycotting lunch or boycott eating all together, or matching to director of education, the administration will listen. Don’t burn down property, that’s cowardice.
School management should be creative in communicating change. Students will need to part of the decisions being made. If communicated well and understood, devastating effects of rigid with decisions would not be seen.