Half-term debate and a new fight with Kuya, HM

Sunday June 09 2019

A few years ago, the government made half-term mandatory for all schools. ILLUSTRATION | J. NYAGAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP


When I was growing up and schooling, half term break was something we only read in books – I never enjoyed it from primary school to Kilimambogo TTC, where I sharpened my teaching claws.

But a few years ago, the government made half-term mandatory for all schools. Practically all schools have been enjoying Mid Term.

Not so Mwisho wa Lami Primary School. Our HM, Bensouda, has never seen the need for it and even convinced us – no, coerced us – to believe that half term was a waste of time.


“I don’t know what fool wrote this circular,” she said, referring to the circular that spelt the 2017 school calendar, which included mandatory half term breaks. “I doubt this moron has ever been to a village, let alone teaching in a village school like ours.”

“These students will just loiter around doing nothing, and causing mischief while at it,” she added.


At the time, I was looking for some favour from Bensouda, so I supported her.

“I never went for half term as a student,” I chimed in. “I did not die. The only school that had half term ended it after they realised that the boys only used it to go replenish their bhang supplies.”

“Half Term increased pregnancies in my time,” said Lena, her bad hair in tow.


At the time, only Saphire supported half term, saying that both students and teachers needed to rest. So, we have never broken for half term. But having talked to other teachers in other schools, I have come to appreciate the break.

“The body needs rest and recovery,” said Kizito, a former teacher here.

As you know there have been some power tussles between yours truly, the de jure Deputy HM and Kuya, the de facto Deputy HM. Initially, we were all competing to have teachers on our side but given the fact that most teachers have already formed opinion about us and would never shift camp, the battle slowly moved to winning the hearts of pupils.

You will remember the other week when I asked for Class Seven pupils to vote between Kiswahili and Math. That earned me points; and as expected, the matter was brought up in a staff meeting.

“I can’t believe we are trying to turn the school into a democracy,” started Alex.

“I belong to a new pedagogical school of thought,” I answered, knowing that no one will understand. I then added: “Even the ministry is with me on this matter of democracy, that is why it directed that students elect their leaders.


Bensouda interjected me: “Such nonsense will never happen in a school I head. If Kenyan adults vote on tribal lines – am I foolish to trust these small ones to do any better? Never ever.” She reprimanded me for asking pupils to vote between math and Kiswahili.

Reviewed schedule

Little did they know that I had plans to seek pupils’ support beyond just one class. A few weeks ago, Kuya reviewed the schedule I had made for teachers on duty”; and put me on duty last week. I initially protested but remembered Bensouda’s directive that Kuya would be a super teacher while I remained her principal assistant.

After making the usual teacher on duty remarks on parade last Monday, I made an announcement: “I have noted that a few of you have torn uniforms while a majority have long hair. When you go for your half term in the next two weeks, please use that week to repair your uniforms and cut your hair.”

There were cheers from the learners. With Bensouda away, Kuya spoke last. He dampened everyone’s spirit by announcing that he was not aware of half term.

“At no time have we ever said that there will be half term,” he said then dismissed the pupils, amidst jeers.

I had expected Kuya to make noise at me, but he did not. I also was pleasantly surprised to learn that a good number of teachers supported me. Lena, Saphire, Nzomo, Mrs Atika, even Alex were behind me.


I waited for Wednesday parade to hit back at Kuya. As usual, Bensouda was not around, so I knew Kuya would speak last. After my usual remarks about late comers and noise makers, I said: “On Monday I talked about things you must do when you go on half term. Raise your hand if you want half term break.” All the pupils raised their hands. “How many don’t want to go? Your hand up.” No one raised.

“Good. Let me welcome Mr Kuya to talk to us and say something about half term,” I said as I welcomed him.

I could see the anger in his eyes. He said several things with no mention of half term, then dismissed the parade. He called for a staff meeting immediately after.

“Let us avoid inciting pupils by making promises we can’t deliver,” he said, visibly upset. “What are you trying to achieve Dre?” he asked me.

“Nothing really,” I said then handed him the circular from the ministry that indicated term dates, with second term’s half term scheduled for 17th June to 23rd June. To his shock, Alex spoke in my support.


“Let’s follow the circular. It is just one week,” said Alex. Seeing he was outnumbered, he said “Let me consult the HM and get back to you.” He then dismissed us, but not before Nzomo told him that he only needed to consult the circular.

That day I received an SMS from Bensouda: You are a Deputy HM and I expect you to behave like one, not like Sossion, if you want to join KNUT, please go get elected. I will not take this lying down.

My response was curt. “Sorry Madam HM. As a responsible DHM, I am just adhering to the TSC Circular on school calendar. Thank you.” She is yet to respond, which means we will have half term!