/ 23 July 2008

Kenya bans cellphones to stem school riots

The Kenyan government banned on Tuesday the use of cellphones in schools in a bid to stem a string of deadly riots that have rocked the country.

”I am banning the use of mobile phones by our students in our schools,” Education Minister Sam Ongeri told Parliament.

The ban, which takes effect immediately, comes a day after police charged dozens of students with arson after weekend riots that left at least one student dead and several injured.

Officers charged several students on Monday over the burning-down of hostels and other violence that had shut down 20 secondary schools across the country, said police spokesperson Eric Kiraithe.

”We will continue arresting the students for the crimes they commit,” said Kiraithe.

More than 300 secondary schools have gone on strike in Kenya over the past month, while students have destroyed properties worth millions of shillings as they protest against poor living conditions and bad management.

Ongeri said cellphones had been used to coordinate the riots, which he blamed on widespread political incitement and drug abuse.

”We cannot afford careless actions; we cannot afford a carefree attitude. If we don’t have discipline in our schools, life will be chaotic,” he told reporters. — Sapa-AFP