First Advisor

Dilafriz R. Williams

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Administration


Educational Leadership and Policy




Secondary Education -- Kenya -- Kirinyaga District, Students -- Kenya -- Kirinyaga District -- Attitudes, School violence -- Kenya -- Kirinyaga District



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, vi, 414 pages)


In recent years, a number of secondary schools in the Kirinyaga district of Central Province of Kenya have experienced riots and boycotts. The major objective of this study was to understand why students disrupt the normal processes of schooling. Students' perceptions were obtained by examining their attitudes, ideas, opinions, morals, and myths about these uprisings. The study was phenomenological in nature and was informed by the symbolic interactionism (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992). Data were collected from six diverse secondary schools: three all boys schools, two all girls schools, and one co-educational school. Multiple sources of data and methods of collection allowed for triangulation. In-depth interviews were conducted with 29 ex-students, nine staff members, and one central office administrator. Interviews were open-ended, interactive, and designed to encourage the respondents to share their stories, beliefs, and standpoints. Written case histories, school-level and district-level documents, and students' records helped contextualize the interviews and past events. Data were analyzed using constant comparative analysis (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Respondents spoke to causes, dimensions, conditions, types, processes, and consequences of the disruptions. It was found that some disruptions were spontaneous and fueled by students' established cultural norms which dictated fights for power and status. Other disruptions were carefully planned to draw the attention of school administrators and teachers to perceived grievances and issues that students cared about. The data also indicated that some of the disruptions were instigated by adult members of the community who were motivated by financial and power gains. Furthermore, respondents narrated experiences of physical hurt and psychological harm, plus damage to school property and financial losses incurred during riots and boycotts. It was observed that the secondary students were not motivated about their schooling experiences. For many students schools lacked relevance given the rapid changes and dislocations experienced by their culture, and the uncertainties of employment. The study acknowledges it is difficult for schools to respond adequately to deep-seated stresses of modernization processes. The study concludes by recommending fundamental changes in educational structure and certification in order to overcome archaic vestiges of the British system in formerly colonized Kenya.


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