The Kenya Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) union has defended a teacher who is said to have ridiculed a pupil over menstruation, prompting her to commit suicide.
The officials led by Julius Korir (vice-chairman), Moses Nturuma (deputy secretary-general) and Catherine Wambilianga (gender secretary) said it is wrong for the Ministry of Education to send Ms Jenifer Mutai, a teacher at Kabiangek Primary School in Konoin, Bomet, on compulsory leave before investigations into the matter are concluded.
Mr Korir said as teachers they mind the welfare of their learners, terming the claims against Ms Mutai “baseless and ridiculous”.
“We issue a one-week ultimatum to the ministry to review this matter. The teacher should be made to resume her duties with immediate effect,” said Mr Korir.
The teacher is said to have sent the girl, Jackline Chepng'eno, home after she soiled her dress while in class. The needy 14-year-old took her life on September 6, shortly after narrating her ordeal to her parents in Chemelet village.
Her mother Beatrice Koech said the teacher termed her “dirty” and embarrassed and humiliated her before the entire class.
But the Kuppet officials, who spoke in Mogotio during the branch annual general meeting, accused the ministry of handling issues concerning teachers with a criminal mind.
They added that the work of teachers is to teach but not to handle sanitary pad matters, which they said is the work of the ministry.
“This issue was beyond her control and she should not be punished for something that’s not her mistake. She just told the girl to go home as her clothes were soiled. We will not sit and watch as teachers are mistreated by the ministry,” said Mr Nturuma.
The girl’s death cast the spotlight on the ministry’s free sanitary towels programme for schoolgirls.
At the same time, Kuppet officials have also opposed the proposal by the Teachers Service Commission requiring deputy principals to be master’s degree holders. “TSC should just promote teachers, most of whom have stagnated in one job group for long,” said Ms Wambilianga.