Education Democratization and Students’ Discipline in Public Secondary Schools in Meru County
M’muyuri, Mishek Mutuma
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Students’ indiscipline has been a thorn in the flesh in the management of secondary schools in Kenya. It has led to the destruction of properties and the rise of other forms of misconduct among students. The study sought to determine the effect of education democratization on the students’ discipline in public secondary schools in Meru County. The specific objectives were to determine the effect of; banning of corporal punishment, allowing students to elect their leaders, participation of students’ representatives in BOM meetings, and involvement of students in making decisions on students’ welfare matters, and evaluate their influence on students’ discipline. The study was anchored on social learning theory, social systems theory and social factor theory. The descriptive survey research design was adapted. The study targeted 395 public secondary schools in Meru County. Information was collected from principals, deputy principals, and students’ leaders. A sample size of 10 principals, 195 deputy principals, and 384 student’s leaders was considered in this study. Schools were stratified and then, systematic sampling technique was applied in each stratum. The deputy principals in charge of discipline were purposively selected, while simple random sampling was used to select two students’ leaders from each sampled school. Questionnaires, interviews, observation schedules and document analysis instruments were utilized in collecting data. Pre-testing of instruments enhanced determination of their validity and reliability. SPSS was used to analyse quantitative data, where factor analysis, frequencies, percentages, means were computed. Ordinal logistical analysis was used to test the research hypothesis, while the thematic technique was used to analyse the qualitative data. The study found that cases of indiscipline were prevalent in most public secondary schools in Meru County. Corporal punishment cases had reduced. Only fifty-two percent of schools were allowing students to elect their leaders, while in other forty-eight percent, teachers did the appointment. This was attributed to lack of elaborate electoral processes. In addition, many schools hardly allowed students’ representatives to attend BOM meetings. In other instances, students lacked the facilitation to attend such meetings. Students' partial involvement in making decisions on student's affairs was attributable to weak systems, and partly due to unrealistic demands by students. The study noted weak implementation of democratic elements and processes. The study recommended the Ministry of Education to liaise with principals to develop policies, systems and monitoring mechanisms for addressing students’ indiscipline cases; streamline electoral processes; and establish guidelines for involving students in BOM meetings and other student-centred affairs. Principals should organize sensitization meetings for all stakeholders, educate students on electoral processes, and train the elected leaders on effective leadership. The findings of this study shall inject changes in the handling of democratization systems in schools.