ON THE VIOLENT STRIKES AND HOW TO RESIST THEM
Over and again destructive/violent strikes have been staged in schools especially secondary schools. This is a very backward way of finding solutions to existing problems. Students should explore many other avenues that exist even if they involve petitioning higher authorities to intervene in their problems other than destroying school property that has been built over years. This is a spirit of no respect for public property; we should stop appearing to support students who have destroyed property in schools if this habit is to end. Each time such strikes occur, every party is quick to blame school administration and teachers, yes but can’t students learn to present their grievances without destroying property which their parents later pay to rebuild anyway? I have personally invested a lot of time educating the students about peaceful means of solving problems. We all must get involved in doing this, parents, teachers, government, community leaders and everybody sensible enough. These schools must be preserved for other generations to come including the children of those violent students.
As we do this, it is important to note that today students in schools are of three different categories and the stability of a school depends largely on how dominant and influential one category is over the others. This is the reason some schools are more prone to strikes than others. Remember also that drugs have penetrated schools so much today.
School administrations together with students’ leadership must identify and isolate for help the dangerous category and parents of such students should accept when called upon to get involved in correcting their children. Many times parents do not know the other face of their children and are not willing to admit their children can be barbaric. Over trusting children can be dangerous dear parents.
These categories of students exist in all schools today and can easily influence your child to join them even if he/she did not belong before.
The wanderers: They are students who have found themselves in school accidentally, they possess no personal vision neither do they share that of the school. They are at school because their parents want them to study. They have no purpose of life, always late for school programs, never prepared nor organized for any program, poor academically and make no effort to improve, never copy and organise notes, are negative about their school each time feeling oppressed, smuggle forbidden items into school, defy school rules and disobey authority and plan all sorts of mischief in school eg strikes. They are the designers of strikes; they have all the time to do it. They are so influential because they do things the easy way.
The followers: This category only waits to be instructed in order to do anything. They are not self-driven, have no self-initiative. They follow every instruction of their peers without questioning why? They are told to sweep where they live, they are told to bathe, they are told to dress well etc, and they wait for instructions to do even the most obvious things. Like the wanderers, they have no definite purpose of life. They simply talk about it but they actually don’t understand it. They are not easy to understand because they obey virtually every instruction. They are easily swayed by the wanderers as well as their teachers. They carry out instructions of the wanderers eg carrying out strikes in schools (Implementers of strikes). They are mediocre/average in reasoning and academics and are volatile in nature. They can easily become either wanderers or even achievers and they are the majority today. Because they are the majority your son or daughter can easily be one, we should ensure that they are constantly helped through sensitization to avoid the first group.
The achievers: This category consists of students who have personal vision and purpose of life. They direct themselves on what to do. They work to achieve their life goals, they want to improve and excel. They are a source of happiness to their teachers and parents. They rarely care about the rest of the students. So many things happen in school behind their back because they are less involved in non-academic issues. They are disciplined, have a purpose in life which guides what they do, are always in time for school programs, they yearn to learn/hungry for more knowledge though sometimes rather selfish and loners because they don’t share their personal vision.
These are some of the students we have in schools today, your son or daughter can be lucky to belong to the third category because they not easily swayed. The first and second need a lot of prayers and guidance.
This is drawn from any of the above categories. If student leadership is drawn from category three the better but if it is drawn from category two then school management has to do a lot to guide them. It is not prudent at all to select student leaders from category one, if it happens then the very student leaders will be a source of problems in the school.
Note, that all strikes that occur in schools have the blessing of student leadership. If student’s leadership is against a particular strike it can’t take place. They may participate in implementation or planning or simply encourage the planners. Therefore it is important for school management and teachers to always stay in touch with their student leaders whatever the case, however weak their leadership is perceived to be. Schools that fail to utilize their student leaders well land into strike problems more easily.
Why students must avoid violent strikes
Parents painfully meeting the cost of destruction, looking for new schools, deaths like in the case of Makerere University, Manjasi High school, Rock High school, Bugema SDA secondary school etc where live bullets have been used to disperse the striking students, strikes generally breed bad future leaders who do not look at peaceful means of resolving conflict, loss of property during the strikes. Even the innocent students loose property. For sure we can explore other means of resolving the existing problem and after all we can even avoid the problems.
Improve the information flow in school, from top to bottom and bottom to top. Take every student grievance seriously and explain yourself on the matter raised. Students should hold regular meetings within themselves, between them and their teachers, between teachers and administration. Involve the parents in management of discipline of their children more regularly. Use suggestion boxes in open and accessible areas for students and respond to their queries/suggestion timely. Students should learn to be patient. Things must not always be done according to their wishes but according to what is best for the entire system. Student leaders should be more objective and understanding since they are training for future leadership positions which may even be more complex. They should remember that they will soon be in the same hot seats facing the same challenges. Involve other personalities more often to give guidance talks to student leaders and other students too. Students should cultivate love for their schools so as to jealously protect the schools’ property other than wishing to destroy it. Teachers should keep attending refresher courses to remain more professional even in hard times. Build strong administrative teams for both staff and students. School administration both staff and students should Practice accurate and effective communication all the time. Effective communication involves active listening, so listen patiently and keenly to others always. Avoid leadership if you have no love for the school and for the job. You will be imprisoning yourself voluntarily. All students identified to belong to category one discussed above should be discouraged from taking up leadership in their schools, therefore screening of applicants for leadership positions should be encouraged in schools.
If these recommendations among others are followed, strikes can become a thing of the past in schools.
By ORYANG DAVID WEGESA
AKINOOMU RESEARCH AND EDUCATION SERVICES UGANDA (ARESU)