Role of students council in secondary schools management in Mwingi central district, Kitui county, Kenya.
Mutua, Titus Mukiti
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The role of student councils in school administration in Kenya and other parts of the world is increasingly becoming more complex because of the changes in technology, society, culture, encroachment of democracy and emerging issues such as child rights, human rights, HIV/AIDS and drugs. This has brought about the participatory role among the principals, teachers, students and parents. This calls for a need to balance roles shared in school governance between the administration, teachers and student councils to ensure its effectiveness. However, the increase in the number of cases of indiscipline among students in secondary schools, manifested in strikes, the burning of school properties and even loss of life, raises questions on the role of student councils in the governance of schools. Although the government of Kenya has partnered with many stakeholders to have Secondary Schools embrace students council in schools and play active role in management support the role they play in management support in Mwingi Central District has not been assessed. It was in this light that the researcher embarked on examining the role of students’ council in secondary school management support in Mwingi Central District, Kitui County, Kenya. The study examined the supervisory, representational, disciplinary roles, discipline and indiscipline trends before and after the introduction of student councils and challenges faced by student councils in management support in Mwingi Central District. The study employed the survey research design. The target population was thirty five (35) principals, thirty five (35) deputy principals, thirty five (35) guidance and counseling teachers, two thousand and twenty five (2025) Form three students in thirty (30) single streamed schools and five (5) three steamed schools making a total population of two thousand, one hundred and thirty (2130). A total of 12 out of the 35 public secondary schools based on the nature of the school i.e. boarding boys, boarding girls, mixed boarding, mixed day was selected for the study. Simple random sampling was used to sample each category. A total of 643 respondents were selected for the study comprising of 12 principals, 12 deputy principals, 12 guidance and counseling teachers, 607 form three students. The research instruments were questionnaires only. The study revealed that student councils were involved in supervisory roles such as ensuring duties such as cleaning the school compound, supervising other students in taking care of the environment, supervising preps and around the study areas like the library and the laboratories, etc, supervising games by making sure that when students are in the field, they obey instructions given by teachers and supervising meals. Student councils were also involved in representational roles such as airing other students’ grievances to the teachers and the administration, holding regular meetings among themselves to discuss problems affecting other students within the school, and inviting contributions inform of ideas and possible solutions to some problems affecting the other students. Student councils performed disciplinary roles such as punishing minor indiscipline cases like making noise and vernacular speaking, identifying and reporting indiscipline students to the school administrators, enforcing school rules and regulation. Discipline has improved with indicators such as students becoming more responsible in handling their duties, cases of riots and strikes have reduced as well as reduced cases of students’ expulsion from school. Challenges include lack of motivation, inadequate leadership skills, overwhelming expectations from the students and teachers, negative image of the position where they are seen as sellouts by other students, and inability to handle issues like drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and teacher-student conflicts. The study concludes that further investigation should be done in other parts of the country in order to bring out the national picture. The study recommends that students councils need to be thoroughly prepared in their supervisory roles in management support in xv secondary school management through being taken to seminars, workshops and regular meetings with the principals. Students’ councils need to be allowed wider space of expressing other students’ grievances in their representational roles. There should be benchmarking programmes by students’ councils on disciplinary roles. More effort is required to improve on certain trends such as expulsion of students from school.