You are Violating Children’s Rights Through Mandatory Drug Test, KUPPET Tells Magoha
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), has cautioned Education cabinet secretary George Magoha against entertaining compulsory drug test among school going children, arguing that the move will violate their rights to privacy.
According to KUPPET, the exercise that began at Maranda School in Siaya County, and which has been backed by Prof Magoha, is an abuse of children’s rights and an affront to privacy of the learners.
Supporting mandatory drug test for high school students has put Magoha on the spot, since other stakeholders too have termed it illegal.
“This act is unprofessional, unconstitutional and illegal. It is also not in line with training of children; it violates Children’s Act and must be stopped,” said Omboko Milemba, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) national chairperson.
Mr Milemba, who is also Emuhaya MP, said children who could not defend themselves should not be subjected to forced drug tests. “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, who is also a member of the National Assembly Education Committee.
He said the government must strengthen guidance and counselling in schools to help children overcome some of their challenges. “Forced tests will make children develop hard line stand and even get hardened. They will adopt bad behavior and challenge teachers that they were cleared of any drug abuse,” said Milemba.
Magoha publicly supported the mandatory drug tests, which has now been adopted by many secondary schools, especially those that had arson cases last term. The CS said the test would help 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.
Omboko’s arguments have been barked by the national parents’ association chairman, Nicholas Maiyo, who wants the testing stopped immediately and only allowed to give consent in a well-coordinated and managed voluntary exercise aimed at helping children.
“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,” said Nicholas Maiyo, national parents’ association chairman.
Maiyo said no tests should be done in school and also cautioned that teachers must not force parents to consent to tests. “Let parents decide what they wish for their children and let them do it voluntarily,” Maiyo said.
The duo have been supported by Lawyer Ken Echesa, who maintained the matter would land in court, as it is unconstitutional. “The exercise violates various sections of the Constitution that touch on right to privacy, children’s rights and discrimination, and must be stopped. It is unnecessary intrusion on children’s lives,” said Mr Echesa.
He said mandatory tests, even with negative results, were not beneficial and would likely affect children’d behavior and character. “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 victimise,” said Echesa.