The Ministry of Education has been asked to offer learners some form of counselling before allowing them back to class.
A PCEA cleric Rev. Godfrey Jomo stressed that the long and unprecedented closure of learning institutions had exposed most scholars to serious psychological challenges and added they are thus not ready to resume classes before they are accorded adequate psychosocial support.
“The long academic break though necessary, had dire consequences on learners. Some of them are now abusing hard drugs. Others are engaging in child labour while many girls are now expectant. Generally there has been an outcry over grave indiscipline amongst adolescents countrywide. That’s why I recommend preschool resumption counselling to rectify the situation,” he emphasized.
Speaking to KNA in Gikondi, Nyeri County yesterday, the Nairobi School Chaplain also urged the government to embark on tracing all learners ahead of schools reopening.
He feared that many learning institutions will suffer under enrolment when classes resume next month due to diverse reasons including early marriages and child labour therefore vouched for their tracing to ensure they continue with education.
Meanwhile the clergyman asked the Ministry of Education to be strict while readmitting student mothers to class to tame runaway pregnancies among schoolgirls.
Jomo said in years gone by, girls who conceived were deemed indisciplined and expelled from school to deter others from emulating them.
“But nowadays, girls know there are no consequences for giving birth, thus the rise in teenage pregnancies. The ministry should reconsider the issue, otherwise girl schools could soon turn to be young mothers’ schools,” he quipped.
He also advised mothers with teenage daughters to discuss with them sex matters plainly without using riddles and parables.
“They should be reminded of a story whereby a girl was told by the mother to ensure no boy ever saw her pantie. And one day as she was playing with boys in a thicket, she heeded the advice, removed the undies, covered it with dry leafs and climbed a tree as boys watched her nakedness lustfully from beneath.”
When she descended, they pounced on her and she subssequently conceived. When the mother realized she was expectant, she questioned her angrily; “Didn’t I warn you never to let any boy see your pantie”?
“Yes you did mum, the naive girl reportedly answered and explained innocently, “I made sure none saw it by removing and covering it with leaves,” the clergyman narrated.
“Put things in black and white, share sex information with your sons and daughters plainly so that they understand fully the consequences of sexual liaisons,” he said noting that some children engage in the vice out of ignorance.
He also urged parents to monitor how their daughters spend their leisure time and their closest friends.
“Some girls are lured into promiscuity by peers and as parents we need to know their friends. We should also ensure we provide their basic requirements like sanitary towels and bus fare to guard them from being preyed on by amorous men after luring them with few coins,” he said, challenging parent and guardians to also guarantee conducive home environment devoid of quarrels.
The cleric’s sentiments come at a time when the country is expecting a ‘baby boom’ mainly attributed to the long closure of schools. The unforeseen long break untethered the sexually active boys and girls and the sad scenario did not come as a surprise.
Lately various print and electronic media houses have been awash with grim highlights of thousands of teenage girls who have conceived across the 47 counties.
On rising suicide cases among young people particularly students, Jomo informed parents to spend quality time with their children so they can guide and counsel them as they mature.
“As they undergo various stages of growth, let’s walk with them as they discover. We should also strive to be resourceful in order to provide solutions to whatever issues they may face. That way we will also earn their respect,” he further advised.
He blamed some parents for contributing to the vice by being too dictatorial to their teenage children instead of exercising dialogue.
“Some of us parents have not understood the appointed time to let it go. The world has changed a lot and unlike during our time, today it is dialogue. You have missed it if you continue dictating to your teenage children on diverse issues; you should talk with them as opposed to talking to them,” he expounded.
In addition, he advised parents and guardians not to infringe on their children’s space informing that most of them feel mature enough and abhorred nosiness from everyone including parents.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth in the 15-29 age bracket.
But concerning younger children, the cleric recommended use of cane quoting the Holy Bible.
“Children naturally do careless mistakes but a good spanking will teach them how to behave. As a matter of fact, it will not kill him but save him (Proverbs 22: 15).”
And as a mitigating measure on social vices among students, he urged the Ministry of Education to embrace chaplaincy in all secondary schools to impart moral values on the young minds.
The former Chairman of Nairobi branch Kenya National Association of Christian Chaplains observed that every secondary school should have a trained and ordained chaplain to work closely with the institution’s administration in addressing issues of concern among students.
He regretted that despite the crucial role chaplains played in ensuring schools produced responsible citizens, only a few secondary schools enjoyed their services with the rest assigning teachers and other untrained personnel chaplaincy duties.
“Chaplaincy should not be an afterthought or a spare wheel. It is one of the important pillars of nurturing a morally upright society. A chaplain molds a student wholesomely by offering moral, career and spiritual guidance,” Jomo maintained and requested churches to financially take care of their respective chaplains seconded to various learning institutions.
By Kamiri Munyaka