A school in Baringo is reaping the gains of trying an alternative mechanism towards behavior change other than punishment and disciplinary action.
Having used the conventional method for years and not seeing results, the resolve to engage counseling of pupils has paid off with improved performance in national examinations, reduced cases of indiscipline and zero cases of exam cheating.
Kasore Primary School, a modest school in Baringo catering mostly for children of poor peasant farmers, has shone in academics since the inclusion of counseling in school programs six years ago.
The School Head teacher, Solomon Komen is happy that despite the poor status of the school infrastructure, they have been able to beat well to do schools in the highlands of Kabarnet.
Cases of dropping out of school due to pregnancies have disappeared from the school records since we started counseling as a means of transforming the behavour of these young girls and boys, says the head teacher.
On the particular day we visited the school, we found two groups of pupils, one being from pre-school to class four undergoing counseling sessions under a tree while the senior classes were holed up in a classroom.
According to Joyce Chemwetich who is in charge of the program, they conduct the sessions every month and invite guest speakers and parents as they tackle personal and environmental hygiene, safety precaution and life skills.
We also lay emphasis on academics guiding them on how to organize themselves and plan their studies via time table, says the teacher.
We plan in advance on the topics to cover and we do reward improved behaviour by the students as a result of counseling, adds the teacher.
The pupils also acknowledge the benefits of the counseling, saying it has helped give them direction in the face of challenges.
It has reduced cases of cheating and has enabled us to do well and receive accolades. It has been beneficial especially to students whose parents are drunkards and fail to guide them, says ShirleenKiplagat, a standard eight pupil.
The school, which is 15 kilometres from the County headquarters and based in a constituency represented by former President Daniel Moi and his son Gideon for three decades, suffer from poor infrastructure forcing the children at a tender age to learn under harsh vagaries of Mother Nature.
With dusty floors and wide gaps on the wooden walls, the pupils are subjected to risks of contacting colds and coughs, pneumonia, asthma and even jiggers but due to the counselling program, they are able to pull through the challenges.
During rains, we are forced to put stones on the floor so as to stand on as water passes through our classes, says a standard three pupil.
The Sub-county Education Officer, Robert Ombasso acknowledged the problem and promised to visit the school to ascertain the situation in the school.
Poverty forces the entire school to go without lunch.
Source: Kenya News Agency