Parents of day students decry ‘unfair’ fines for torched dorms

Parents at Hirimani Mixed Secondary School during an interview with Nation.Africa in Bura, Tana River County.

Photo credit: Stephen Odour I Nation Media Group

Parents of day school students in Tana River County want to be exempted from paying fines for property damaged by boarding students.

They say it is unfair to charge their children because most cases of unrest happen at night when they are not in school.

They also argue the penalties are exorbitant compared with the damages caused.

Several schools across the country were closed following unrest in the past two months with administrators imposing hefty fines for destruction of property.

"I'm asked to pay Sh3,000 for chaos my child did not participate in. He was at home at the time those students were torching the dormitory," says Asha Ahmed.

The Hirimani Secondary School principal, she said, has also demanded that all students clear fees balances before reporting back to school.

This, she said, has inconvenienced day students who cannot do so and now must stay home.

Mr Ibrahim Shora said parents of most day students prefer the arrangement because they are unable to pay all the fees required for academics, accommodation and feeding in the schools.

"We are unable to raise all that money at once, the fees and penalties. Spare us that burden," Mr Shora said.

They now want education officials to intervene and exempt their children from paying penalties for burnt school property.

Students of Hirimani, Huruma and Wenje secondary schools recently went on the rampage demanding longer holidays.

At Huruma Secondary, students walked out of school in protest after one of them was suspended over indiscipline.

The student reportedly attacked a teacher from Hirimani Secondary for confiscating his phone during an inter-school contest.

At Hirimani, the cause of the protest was yet to be established, as security agencies and school administrators narrowed down investigations to 10 students believed to have set fire to a 300-bed dormitory.

Similarly, the cause of the unrest at Wenje was yet to be established. The school principal did not respond to requests for information.

Tana River County Director of Education James Nyagah warned that students found to have organised the chaos will be punished. 

He noted that the complaints from parents of day students on penalties will be addressed.