Parents in Kilifi whose children are studying at Chumani secondary school have come out to complain about harassment by the deputy head teacher with assistance from several other teachers.
By virtue of the new Constitution of Kenya adopted in 2010, corporal punishment of children is unlawful in all settings, including the family home
This is after the school management sent the children home on 30 July 2023 night when they allegedly went on rampage although there has not been any evidence reported of damage caused by students.
In a letter that Coast Times has seen addressed to Kilifi county Teachers Service Commission on August 1 2023, parents apportioned blame on deputy principal Justus Obegi, Judith Bonarei and Davas Otieno according to students reports.
‘It is alarming that it has come to our attention as parents about the latest development in the school. Students are complaining about harassment they suffer at the hands of the new deputy principal,” the concerned parent alleged in a letter.
“The students claimed that the reason why they left the school at 1 am on Sunday morning 20 July 2023 was that they had enough from the deputy principal and his harassing nature: the latest act being him slapping and whipping a young girl because she was running to the dorm to sleep. Due to that the students got angry and decided to leave the school in the middle of the night through the gate,” adds the letter.
They added that some of the other allegations parents got from their children included at one time the deputy principal instructed the school janitor Mr. Elijah to make him so many whipping canes that are stored in his office.
That the deputy uses the whips to whip students at the slightest provocation without listening to the students, that the deputy principal whips young girls on the buttocks without considering their gender or even what she has done to warrant such punishment.
‘On Saturday around 9 am the deputy principal lifted up a skirt of a new form one and whipped her on the thighs because she had refused being canned on the buttocks until she developed blisters on the thighs. This single act angered most of the students who witnessed it especially after canning her she was forced to kneel on the administration block from 9 am to 17 pm. The student’s leaders got wind of the ill-treatment and went to instruct the girl to leave that spot and made arrangements to take her to the clinic,” read part of the letter exposing the school management.
“One Sunday evening after students came back from a geography trip, one student who had injured his foot and could not put on a shoe and with a note about the same was slapped by the deputy principal without listening to him which made the teacher in charge Mr. Mutuku, to ask why that happened without him as a teacher who knew the condition of the student being consulted? Added the parent’s letter.
The parents are also questioning how powerful is the deputy principal who is even feared by fellow teachers and who allows him to run a school like a military camp?
“Students also complain that even the teachers are afraid to question the deputy principal to an extent a teacher might give permission to a student but tells them when the deputy principal finds them, they should not mention them” read the letter.
“Students complain that they are not allowed to go outside during the night prep. That means even if they wanted to go to the washrooms they were punished. This makes the female students use buckets in classrooms to ease themselves for the fear of being punished, ‘added the parent.
The parents have requested the ministry of education through Teachers service commission to send a team to the school for further investigations to unearth the truth about the student’s allegations.
They said that students are ready to give their testimonials.
“As parents we request your office to send your team to confirm the allegations and take necessary action to all the culprits and their accomplices. If an action is taken the community is ready to take actions in their own hands because they are tired of that,” the parent’s message continued.
Pertinent issues raised in the letter included why the principal resorted to calling parents without order wondering if the school management did not want a parent meeting to air out the issue at hand?
Why was the school management asking for Sh25000 for a fence from each student when it is evident they did not sneak out but used the main gate that was opened by security?
Again the Sh1.2 million that would be raised by 500 students according to the last AGM was not enough for the fence project that was not prioritized raising questions on the motive without consulting parents.
Parents raised the issue with a plan to punish all students without justifying their crime claiming that their children were the victims of the deputy principal and that it is a matter of their children’s welfare that the education ministry should come in to look into it.
‘We shall be waiting to see your action being taken. Thank you. Yours faithfully. A concerned parent.” The letter ended.
Contacted for comment on the matter Kilifi North Teachers Service Commission official Anthony Njiraini said that he was not in the position to comment.
Students who turned out on Monday with their parents were told to go home after mentioning the deputy principal as the only problem that made students strike.
“It has reached to a point the school management is now threatening children in that if you mention the deputy principal action as the issues behind the strike parents are told to go home with their children. We just want justice for our children, they cannot be victimized and forced to be silent on it,” said a parent.