Education officials allege incitement of learners as Nandi school is closed indefinitely

Kemeloi Boys High School in Nandi which was closed indefinitely on Saturday following students' rampage

Kemeloi Boys High School in Nandi which was closed indefinitely on Saturday and about 1,200 students sent home following protests over food shortages and a poor diet. Students and a section of parents also allege mismanagement of the school coffers.

Photo credit: Tom Matoke | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In the latest strike, the students claimed they used to be served meat once a week, which is no longer happening
  • They also used to get tea with bread twice week
  • Education officials in the region said the students were incited to reject school heads hailing from other parts of the country, with fingers pointed at teachers who don't want Dr Shavisha on tribal grounds

Kemeloi High School in Nandi County has been closed indefinitely and about 1,200 students sent home following protests over food shortages and a poor diet.

The students were suspended on Saturday after staging a strike on Friday, when they declined to go to class, alleging mismanagement of school funds.

This was the second time in less than a year the extra-county boarding school was closed due to a standoff between students and administrators.

In the latest strike, the students claimed they used to be served meat once a week, which is no longer happening. They also used to get tea with bread twice week.

Tender wars

The students were allegedly incited by some parents and the local community in a dispute over the awarding of tenders to supply goods and services to the school.

A week ago, parents stormed the school and demanded that the board of management be disbanded and the principal, Dr Tom Shavisha, be transferred, claiming that he had precipitated a financial crisis. 

The Nation has learnt that the school has had food shortages for about four months.

But education officials in the region said the students were incited to reject school heads hailing from other parts of the country, with fingers pointed at teachers who don't want Dr Shavisha on tribal grounds. Dr Shavisha has been the school’s principal for only six months. 

Teachers using students

Insiders say some of the teachers are using the students to reject Dr Shavisha so that one of them can be promoted to replace him.

Trouble started last year when locals wanted to have a say on who should be posted to head the school. 

The students will remain at home until the issues the school is facing are resolved, said Nandi County Director of Education Zackary Mutuiri.

"When the students were admitted to Kemeloi Boys High School, they did not sign anywhere on who was going to be their principal and the ministry is not going to allow them to choose who to head schools,” Mr Mutuiri said.

Poor management claims

But some parents, led by Cleophas Mwakio, lamented what they called poor management of school resources. Mr Mwakio cited expenditures that he said had resulted in food shortages.

“We have noted that the food commodities such as maize and beans are scarce, and the children have been complaining over a poor diet, with little food being served to them, unlike before, even though they are paying school fees," said parent Peter Kemei said.

The parents claimed the school was in a financial crisis and cannot support its operations and the students’ well-being. 

"The parents and students have been complaining about poor feeding at the school,” Mr Kemei alleged.

Snubbed parents meeting

Another parent alleged the school board snubbed the parents’ annual general meeting last week and claimed administrators had inflated tenders and committed financial improprieties.

Nandi Kuppet secretary Paul Rotich demanded the transfer of the principal.

School board chair Japhet Sugut confirmed the school is in a financial crisis and said the matter was reported to the authorities.

Audit

"A multiagency team has already been dispatched to audit the management and soon will come out with the findings to establish the truth over the claims made by the parents," Mr Sugut said.

"The task force, comprising auditors, has launched investigations into [the] claims … and appropriate action will be taken accordingly."

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