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Nairobi public school based trauma healing, peace building and reconciliation

The Nairobi public school based trauma healing, peace building and reconciliation

The first Kenyan assessment of traumatic exposure and symptoms in adolescents in Nairobi city public schools was completed in 2010, and took place on the heel of the recent 2008 post election violence in Kenya which affected mostly the youths and which psychologists say played a part in the recent school riots which brought over 300 schools to a standstill in the country. This study was critical as it helped the government understand the impact of political post election violence on educational institutions and the youth in the country.

The Nairobi Public School based Trauma Healing, Peace building and Reconciliation project was conducted in partnership with Oasis Africa.

A baseline psychological research survey was the first aimed at informing service provision, promoting trauma healing, peace building and reconciliation in public schools in Nairobi.

882 students from 49 public schools participated in the survey that was approved by the Ministry of Education. The questionnaire included demographic information, trauma exposure, ethnic identity depression, likelihood of violence, delinquency, anxiety, coping and impact on school performance. The survey team was comprised of Oasis Africa counselors and psychologists led by Dr. Gladys Mwiti, PhD clinical psychologist and CEO Oasis Africa.

The study found that 73 per cent of the youths aged between 12 and 19 were exposed to Kenya’s 2007 post election violence. 62.8 per cent of the sample scored in the risk group for PTSD diagnosis. The young indicated traumatic loss as a major contributor to symptoms of PTSD. In addition to traumatic loss, the young people reported multiple traumatic events, such as domestic violence, exposure to gang-related or community violence, physical abuse, politically-instigated violence. Few trauma specific services exist in the school system to assist students with trauma, and few understand the relationship between their experienced trauma and current functioning. Academic performance suffered due to the distress.

The report awaited for by Kenya’s Ministry of Education could go along way in helping in the planning the provision of guidance and counseling needs in schools.