Kenya: School leadership and the 2007 post-election violence
This chapter explores the role of school leadership in managing the effects of the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya that significantly altered the context of schooling. Although violence has been an unfortunate feature of Kenyan elections since 1991, the magnitude and impact of the episode in 2007 were unanticipated. Given the historical connection between politics and ethnicity in the country, the conflict further deepened the cleavages created between ethnic groups. For schools, the consequences of the postelection violence translated into a displacement of students and teachers, as well as the creation of an urgent need for trained counsellors, all in a context of very scarce resources. It also brought to the forefront the challenges of managing schools beleaguered by ethnic tensions, fear and prejudice. Notably, it created a perceptible shift in the role of principals and teachers. Traditional references to the ‘climate of learning’ were supplemented by terms such as ‘peace’ and ‘conflict resolution’, these becoming commonplace in the discourse used at teacher conferences and training initiatives run by churches, as well as in the implementation of life-skills education. Given the challenges that teachers and students continue to face years after the conflict and the increased demand for ‘peace’ and ‘conflict resolution’ in Kenyan schools, this chapter explores the nature of the leadership being provided at the school level to deal with the realities of post-conflict schooling.