Kenya is widely known as a drinking nation. However the drinking has gone too far. A new research, coming on the backdrop of tough alcohol laws and advocacy campaigns, reveals that one third of form four students aged below 18 years imbibe the ‘holy waters’ regularly.
The report from research firm Ipsos Synovate divulges that form three students involved in underage drinking stand at 21.3%. More than six out of every 100 form one students regularly take alcohol and this number trebling as the students advance to form two. The findings go further to indicate that 56% of underage children used in the study admitted to have tasted alcohol between 12 and 18 years.
“The transition to Form Two is an area that needs special attention. It is the period when adolescence is at peak,” noted Soyinka Witness, a researcher from Ipsos Synovate, adding that most of these school-going children are drinking spirits and beer with a small portion taking traditional potions like mnazi, chang’aa, muratina and busaa.
The research delves further into the underage drinking to reveal that boys are the biggest culprits. However, this is not tied to the amount given to the students as pocket money by their parents and guardians. Day scholars and borders recorded a drinking pervasiveness on 24.4% while schools that combine both day and boarding have students drinking alcohol at a 15.8%.
The biggest driver of this vice is peer pressure, according to Munyae Mulinge, a sociology professor at United States International University (USIU). “However, this is just one of the factors. At this transition period students use alcohol to escape from school stresses. Besides there’s a perception created by the media that alcohol enhances performance and this is also another contributing factor,” said the don.
Most of the students have devised ways of buying alcohol with some using the school workers to aid in the vice. Others take advantage of school outings during events like drama festivals and school games to buy alcohol.