KUPPET Leadership Locks Horns With CS Magoha Over Compulsory Drug Test To Students.
Education stakeholders now want Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to overturn a directive requiring high school students to undergo a mandatory drug test.
Education experts allege that the exercise which was first piloted at Maranda School is a violation of the children’s rights and their privacy and should be settled before court.
Parents, teachers and lawyers also buy in the same claim and have faulted CS Magoha’s directive.
“The exercise violates various sections of the Constitution that touch on the right to privacy, children’s rights and discrimination, and must be stopped. It is an unnecessary intrusion on children’s lives,” Lawyer Ken Echesa stated.
Echesa argued that government engagement with the learners would be more beneficial as compared to the tests which even if turned out to be negative would alter their behavioural change and victimize them.
“The government should engage stakeholders such as parents and children to voluntarily participate in the exercise. And it must be aimed at helping children, not to victimize,” said Echesa.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) national chairperson Omboko Milemba on his part stated that the Ministry should halt the illegal process terming it ‘unprofessional’.
“This act is unprofessional, unconstitutional and illegal. It is also not in line with the training of children; it violates the Children’s Act and must be stopped,” Milemba said.
Milemba who also doubles up as Emuhaya MP and a member of the National Assembly Education Committee faulted the CS saying that he should have involved stakeholders before enforcing the law on students.
“Does Magoha consult? Does he even talk to his staff or other Education stakeholders; or even experts in his office? Because if he does, then he should have been told that this is illegal and immoral,” said Milemba,” Magoha said.
The lawmaker identified the process as ‘forced’ to students and thus would not serve the intended purpose and suggested that the government should find alternative means such as guidance and counselling options.
“Forced tests will make children develop hard-line stand and even get hardened. They will adopt bad behaviour and challenge teachers that they were cleared of any drug abuse,” said Milemba.
Faith Nafula, a counseling psychologist, overlooked the operation saying it is not the ultimate solution to indiscipline in schools.
“You do not have to be taking drugs for you to exhibit indiscipline. We have other forms of indiscipline in schools like bullying, that is done with sober boys and girls,” said Nafula.
She added: “There is more to that than just testing. The students might have their own reasons as to why they are burning schools. Substance abuse may contribute to their mal behavior but there could be more to it.”
Parents consequently called for the process to be stopped noting that it was not a voluntary exercise and their consent was not called for.
Nicholas Maiyo, national parents’ association chairman said the fact that tests are done in schools can lead to teachers discriminating against some students.
“Let parents decide what they wish for their children and let them do it voluntarily,” Maiyo said.
“As it is now the mandatory testing in schools is unacceptable and it can be used by some teachers to punish students they wish to victimize,” he added.
Last month, CS Magoha said the tests would be vital in identifying errant students before isolating them to ensure schools run smoothly.
“The problem we are facing now starts at home. We have children who are being given everything they ask for at home and when they come to school, they expect to get the same treatment,” said Magoha.