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student protest and violence networked improvement community secondary schools

Boarding Schools as Colonizing and Oppressive Spaces: Towards Understanding Student Protest and Violence in Kenyan Secondary Schools

Teresa A. Wasonga , Tompson Makahamadze

Goffman’s theory of total institutions and Fanon’s theory of violence were used to explain student protests and violence in Kenyan seconda.


Goffman’s theory of total institutions and Fanon’s theory of violence were used to explain student protests and violence in Kenyan secondary schools. Youth violence around the world is not a new phenomenon. However, the persistence, frequency, and intensity of violence, and their consequences beg for logical explanations and remedies. This study was part of a three-year project facilitated through the Networked Improvement Community partnership for self-study and intervention. Although a holistic approach to research was applied, data for this study were gathered through narrative inquiry. Participants (teachers, principals, and members of the school community) were identified purposively using the snowball process. Data were analyzed through deductive and inductive reasoning. Findings indicate a preponderance of student protest and violence among students in boarding schools. Student violence was a response to the devaluing and oppressive environment in boarding schools which resembled total institutions, and students exercising democratic rights to protest. The paper argues that school authorities could mitigate violent protests by providing formal political means of representation and democratic decision-making; creating new spaces for negotiation and peaceful protest; listening to the voices of students; and engaging in dialogue to create a common vision and mission.

Keywords: Student protest and violence, Networked Improvement Community, secondary schools.

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