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Unrest aftermath: Schools accused of exploiting parents

Saturday August 11 2018

Burnt dormitory at Kiamworia Girls Secondary School in Gatundu South which was razed on July 27, 2016.

Burnt dormitory at Kiamworia Girls Secondary School in Gatundu South which was razed on July 27, 2016. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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As the wave of school unrest witnessed across the country last term subsides, parents are now paying dearly for the damages caused by their sons and daughters.

Schools are charging different amounts depending on the extent of the damage.

The unrest was mostly characterised by burning of buildings, especially dormitories, administration blocks, classrooms and food stores.

The National Parents Association has, however, said most school administrations are taking advantage of the school unrest to mint money from parents by exaggerating the cost of damage.

The association's chairman Nicholas Maiyo has questioned the amount schools are charging, saying they are not a true reflection of the damages caused.

“As parents, we want to sit down with teachers, say, for instance, the damage caused on the dormitory is this much and the window panes is this much, tabulate the amount then arrive at the figure that should be paid by the parents,” Mr Maiyo said.



Mr Maiyo told the National Assembly Committee on Education that in most instances, the damages caused by students do not exceed Sh2,000, but parents are forced to pay up to Sh5,000. “We must have a mechanism to evaluate the cost of the damages caused by students, so that parents don’t pay more than the actual loss,” Mr Maiyo told the committee chaired by Tinderet MP Julius Meli. “There is an amount of money that remains after the actual damage cost is removed. Where does it go?"

At Kisumu Girls High School, for instance, the school administration had to postpone reopening last month after parents protested the fine imposed on them.

Each of the over 1,800 students was required to pay a fine of Sh5,000 for the damage caused during the July 1 protests.

Parents questioned the rationale behind the fine, saying the damage could not cost the school in excess of Sh500,000 as only a few window panes and the windscreen of the principal’s car were reported to have been broken.


Mr Maiyo wants a committee comprising teachers, parents and other education stakeholders formed in each school that witnessed unrest to assess the damage and determine what parents should pay. He argued that since parents were the ones to meet the cost of the damages, they should not be isolated in the process of arriving at the fines. “It also hurts us as parents when students go on rampage because we know at the end, it is us who will meet the cost,” Mr Maiyo told the MPs.

Some parents have also proposed that individual schools conduct in-depth investigations into the cause of the unrest and only charge the implicated students.

Most parents were reportedly being charged between Sh1,000 and Sh5,000 as contribution towards the reconstruction of school facilities that were either burned or destroyed during the student riots.


Besides the fines, the parents are also expected to clear school fees for a whole year before their sons and daughters can be readmitted.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed last week told MPs that 107 out of 8,900 public and 1,800 private schools were affected by various forms of student unrest this year.

In 2016, there were 483 reported incidents of unrest which included 239 cases of arson.