The government on Thursday started a crackdown on politicians and other individuals inciting communities to reject and block newly-posted headteachers from taking over learning institutions.
Six Ward Reps from Makueni County who had attempted to prevent the new St Josephs Girls’ High School principal in Kibwezi from accessing the institution’s compound were arrested on Thursday.
Makueni County Commissioner Mohammed Maalim said the six were taken to Mtito Andei police station, where they are currently being detained and will be arraigned in court.
The politicians were rounded up in a dramatic swoop as they sat in a meeting with county education officials and members of the school’s board of management at the school Thursday afternoon.
They were then driven by the law enforcement officers to Mtito Andei, some 40 kilometres away.
Led by Mr Nicholas Maitha (Thange Ward), who chairs the county assembly’s Education Committee, the MCAs had earlier in the day battled police and education officials as they attempted to prevent Ms Rose Kiragu from reporting to her new work station.
On Thursday, a source at the ministry of Interior, who sought anonymity, described the attempted evictions as a “security issue” pointing out they had now taken full charge of the matter.’
“The ministry of Interior is now handling this issue as a security matter. This is because of the safety of students and teachers in those schools,” said the source.
He spoke as Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Kahi Indimuli asked the government to protect the head teachers.
Mr Indimuli and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) secretary-general Akelo Misori condemned the attacks on the headteachers.
“Teachers are posted by their employer — the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) — and they have a responsibility to serve students. They do not deploy themselves,” he said.
Mr Misori, on his part, asked the TSC and the ministry of Education to take charge.
“Villagers, including MCAs, are walking into schools. Goons should not be allowed to walk into schools,” said Mr Misori.
He spoke as Kapenguria Boys’ High School in West Pokot was closed indefinitely after students turned rowdy during protests against the transfer of their principal, James Omayo, in the recent changes made by the Teachers Service Commission.
The school’s principal has been moved to Makunga Boys in Trans-Nzioa County. He has been replaced by former Kabarnet Boys’ High School principal, Mr Julius Bahati Mwambili.
The students refused to attend classes, forcing the Director of Education, Mr Jarred Obiero, to immediately close the school to avert destruction after the learners threw stones at police who were called to restore order.
Parents stormed the school after they learnt of the indefinite closure, asking the ministry of Education to revoke the transfer. They threatened to withdraw their children, saying the transfer would affect learning at the school.
Speaking to the Nation on the phone, West Pokot County director of education Jarred Obiero said: “The students stoned the OCS in the morning while they were demonstrating.”
Kapenguria OCPD Antony Wanjuu said the OCS sustained minor injuries and was treated at the Kapenguria County Hospital and discharged.
In Bungoma, police said they were looking for four MCAs who stormed Friends School Kamusinga and forcibly ejected the new principal on Wednesday morning.
Police said the principal and school guards had recorded statements at Kimilili Police Station following the Wednesday incident.
County Police Commander Charles Munyoli said that the MCAs and goons who invaded the school and harassed the principal will be arrested and arraigned in court.
“We don’t want interference in our learning institutions. There is a proper channel that they should have followed, not taking the law into their own hands. I have dispatched my officers and they will be apprehended,” Mr Munyoli told the Nation on the phone on Thursday.
Four MCAs, including Elvis Abuka, Stephen Wamalwa of Soysambu/Mitua ward, Aggrey Mulongo of Kibingei ward and nominated MCA Luke Opwora, on Wednesday stormed the national school, ejected the principal, Mr Alex Kariuki Maina, and locked his office with padlocks and chains.
Mr Maina was transferred to the school from Oloolaiser High School in Kajiado to take over from Mr Edwin Namachanja, who was transferred to Maranda High School in Siaya County.
Mr Opwora told the Nation that he did not fear being arrested.
“I’m nominated to represent the interests of youths in the county assembly. As long as I am defending the interests of the community, I do not fear being arrested. The newly-posted principals will not stay in those schools,” he said.
In Migori County, the principal of Nyangere Secondary School in Nyatike sub-county, Mr Odunga Nyamusi, was also on Thursday kicked out by angry parents who claimed he has not improved the school’s performance for the last 10 years.
Other schools in the region that have been affected by parents’ protests include Kanga Onditi Mixed, Obolo, Okuodo, and Nyemataburo.
In Siaya, parents of Agwara Mixed Secondary School in Bondo sub-county evicted the principal, Mr Stephen Kosewe, over poor performance and alleged mismanagement.
The hundreds of parents blocked the gate of the school in an attempt to bar the principal from accessing the compound after accusing him of running down the institution.
In Nyeri county, there was discontent at Mahiga Girls’ Secondary School following the replacement of both the principal and the deputy.
The Nation learnt that the school’s board of governors was unhappy with the decision at a time when the school had registered improved results in national examinations.
In Taita-Taveta County, all new principals have reported to their stations despite protests by local leaders.
Reports by Pius Maundu, Ouma Wanzala, Oscar Kakai, Titus Oteba, Elisha Otieno, Nelcon Odhiambo, Lucy Mkanyika, Lucas Barasa and Nicholas Komu