|www.corpun.com : Archive : 1998 : KE Schools Jun 1998|
Corpun file 2677 at www.corpun.com
Daily Nation, Nairobi, 22 June 1998
Unruly schoolboys in war of nerves with community
By NATION Reporter
Kigumo Bendera High School in Maragua District, once considered a bastion of excellence, faces imminent closure.
Should this happen, the local people, who in the 1970s upgraded the former Marumi Primary School into a secondary school, will be very disappointed.
Their dream of providing an opportunity for school leavers who could not get places in Government secondary schools to proceed with their education would be shattered.
But in recent times, the school has become more of a liability than an asset. Unless concerted efforts are made to restore the discipline which characterised its formative years, they might well be better off without the institution.
Local people are agreed that discipline can only be restored through the joint efforts of education officials, teachers, parents and the students themselves. There is also a consensus that this cannot be achieved unless the headmaster, who has been at the school for the past 15 years, is removed.
Parents and residents are demanding an urgent meeting between themselves and the board of governors to work out a lasting solution.
Strikes have become the order of the day at the school -- at least four times every term -- following by prolonged breaks as students are sent home.
The school is currently closed, with students being recalled piecemeal, starting with Form Fours, who were supposed to return last week on condition that they agreed to be caned by the headmaster. But they said no and were promptly sent back home.
Form Three students were to follow last Tuesday, but they too vowed not to accept the punishment.
Form Twos were scheduled to return on Wednesday but it was not immediately established whether they were to be caned also.
There have been four strikes this year, three in first term. According to a parent, a student recently attacked a woman passing by and allegedly stole Sh1,000 from her. He is said to have assaulted her sexually.
The woman reported the matter to the police about 100 metres away. She later identified her attacker in a parade mounted in the school.
When the student was taken to the police station, his colleagues demonstrated from the school to the office of the district commissioner at Mariira, five kilometres away, demanding his release.
They later returned to school, having engaged in all manner of destruction on the way to and from the DC's office.
The current closure came after the students two weeks ago insulted and threatened to beat teachers who had gone to inspect the dormitories. The students are said to have refused the inspection and started insulting the teachers as they threatened to stone them.
According to a local leader, a student stole four cows belonging to the school and sold them in 1996.
During third term last year, the students rioted and terrorised traders at Kigumo trading centre. They were expelled and Form Four students had to come straight from home to sit their "O" Level examinations.
An irate parent said: "Something is seriously wrong at the school. We urge education authorities to move in quickly."
The parent said an urgent meeting of education officials, board of governors and parents should be called to discuss ways and means of saving the school.
She said the meeting should not be attended by the headmaster, who is secretary to the board, because he ought to be on the agenda.
The parent said the school concentrates too much on sports at the expense of studies. Students who excel in sports are treated in a "special way", the parent said, adding that some of the students smuggled drugs and alcohol into school each time they went for sports outside the school.
A local leader concurred, but said the school should not be allowed to collapse as this would go against the original aim of providing education for youth from the area. He said one of the solutions to "the crises" would be to revert to day school status.
The situation at the school has got out of hand because local leaders and education officials had failed to give the issue of indiscipline at the school the attention it deserved, he said.
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