A primary school in Nakuru has embraced a democratic process in selecting its pupil’s leaders as a way of promoting voter education among its learners.
During the polling at Vision Preparatory Academy, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) provided voting materials and coordinated the process as a way of preparing the younger generation for the future.
The electoral body also conducted voter education sessions, oversaw nomination of candidates and monitored candidates’ campaigns.
It was the second year in a row that aspirants for leadership positions at the school located in Subukia Sub-County were subjected to the ballot.
The 1,205 pupils simulated the country’s polling procedure with the electoral body supervising the voting, while parents assumed the role of observers as the learners participated in the process.
One of the hotly contested seats in the elections was the Pupil’s President who is the overall leader which was won by Santana Oreya. The seat had attracted five candidates. Other contestable posts were Governors and Ministers.
“After the elections we awarded the winners with certificates. The polling took place smoothly and in an orderly manner which resulted in a free, fair and credible election that was accepted by all,” said Mr Joel Orina, an official from IEBC who acted as the returning officer.
Mr Orina stated that prior to the process teachers and standard 8 pupils who did not participate in the elections had been trained to act as the polling Clerks and Presiding Officers in the elections.
He said that the idea was also to try and empower the pupils, especially the standard 8 ones who are exiting school.
“You realize that some of these standard 8 pupils who were trained to act as polling clerks and presiding officers will stand a better chance to work with IEBC in the future because they will have an experience and know what is expected of them,” added Mr Orina
The IEBC official said the commission would continue supporting and conducting school elections as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative to foster a culture of democracy and good governance right from a tender age.
The school’s Director Albert Kimani stated that they chose to partner with IEBC following previous complaints by the pupils that the process wasn’t fair.
“Initially a majority of the pupils felt that the teachers were imposing leaders on them by manipulating the results and that why we thought it wise to partner with an independent body,” Mr Kimani pointed out.
The Director said involvement of IEBC in pupil leadership election had positively impacted on discipline, academic and extracurricular activities performance because through democratically elected representatives learners were being afforded dialogue and attention.
He added that the candidates were given seven days to campaign and that the school supported the aspirants in doing posters and other campaign materials so as to give them a level playing field.
“We witnessed very peaceful campaigns devoid of threats, intimidation or insults. We want to inculcate in future generations a culture of practicing mature and issue oriented politics. They now know mature politics is about democracy and not violence and acts of incitement,” the Director observed.
A representative of parents Mr Charles King’ori noted that the exercise will enable future generations to become response leaders and voters who shun violence during electioneering period.
“The kids now know it is their right to register as voters and elect leaders of their choice in a peaceful and democratic process. When they grow they will be aware that issues rather than personalities count when picking leaders,” Mr King’ori said.