• Exploring violence through the narratives of youth in Kenyan secondary schools: Implications for reconceptualising peacebuilding

      Porto, Joao Gomes; Poku, Nana K.; Wachira, T.W. (University of BradfordDepartment of Peace Studies, 2014-05-01)
      Based on the narratives of young people this research explores the rise in youth violence in Kenya¿s secondary school system and wider society and the potential for peacebuilding to address youth violence. Of particular concern is the gradual change in the profiles, patterns and intensity of the conflict, as evidenced by the increase in the number of youth militias. This increase is often attributed to unemployment and poverty ¿ yet, to date, no systematic research has been produced on the extent to which the youth participation in violence occurs through choice or coercion, or indeed both. Worryingly, a significant number of young people involved in this violence are secondary school students. The findings of this research indicate that despite responses to youth violence in the school and wider Kenyan society, the violence is unabated. Notably, approaches continue to be top-down, generic, superficial and ineffectual. By marginalising the narratives of the youth who participate in and/or observe the violence, current institutional policies and approaches are decontextualised - from both the particular and the wider Kenyan context. This leaves intact the root causes of the violence. This research raises important questions concerning generic, top-down, quick-fix, outmoded cultural paradigms, hierarchical and questionable homogeneous pedagogical approaches to peacebuilding in both the schools and wider Kenyan context. In attempt to address these deficiencies the research seeks to find out approaches to peacebuilding and the Kenyan education systems that can respond to youth violence. This research proffers three key dimensions that can be incorporated in order to ensure effective and sustainable peace: experiences, worldviews and attitudes of the actors. The research, which utilises a constructivist grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2006), was conducted in fourteen secondary schools in Nairobi and the Rift Valley provinces ¿ two provinces that have been at the centre of youth violence and militia activities. These provinces were also selected in order to reflect the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic character, and the different types of schools in Kenya.