The fate of KCSE candidates at academic giant Moi Girls' High School Eldoret hangs in the balance after it was yesterday closed indefinitely following the students' first ever strike.
The more than 1,400 students went on strike demanding the removal of the school principal Christine Chumba, accusing her of intimidation, high-handedness and failure to address their grievances.
National examinations are scheduled to kick off across the country with practicals set to begin in the next two weeks.
Uasin Gishu County Director of Education Gitonga Mbaka held a two-hour crisis meeting with various stakeholders and ordered closure of the national school that has produced key personalities in the country.
The school, which was started by white settlers as ''highland school'' to cater for their children and later re-named Moi Girls during President Daniel Moi's era, has never been involved in a strike.
"We have consulted with other organs of government and we have agreed that in order to address the concerns raised, all students should be given a break. All girls in the school have been asked to vacate the school today or by Thursday morning," said the education official.
Mr Mbaka said the school board of management and other stakeholders will hold a meeting on Thursday that is expected to make an announcement on the re-opening of the school.
The strike began at 6.30 in the morning, when the students marched to the school's main gate in an attempt to leave the school. The private security guards and anti-riot police officers and education officials had a difficult time controlling the agitated students.
The striking students carried placards, twigs and chanted anti-principal slogans to express their displeasure in the manner in which the school was being managed.
Students complained of intimidation of teachers, non-teaching staff and learners as well as mismanagement of the institution.
The students pleaded with Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to intervene and have the school head transferred.
The principal reported to the school in February 2019, having been transferred from Nakuru Girls' High School.
The students enumerated a number of grievances.
They protested that there were constant power outages and insufficient school books. They claimed that the school library had been closed and that there weren't enough premises to accommodate learners with serious health conditions.
"We love this school and that is why we didn't destroy anything. But we want the principal to go so that sanity can be restored at this academic giant ... as a mother, she was supposed to be advising us but, instead, most students fear her," alleged one learner.
Another student claimed that they were fed up with the principal after she failed to listen to and address their grievances.
"Our welfare is not considered at all; most workers are demoralised and have been fired and intimidated. We have cases where non-teaching staff have been slapped," she said.
The learners also took issue with destruction of trees in the school, saying the principal had failed to conserve the environment.
Another learner said they were not getting proper meals.
Mr Charles Laboso, the Ainabkoi Assistant County Commissioner, assured the learners that the grievances will be addressed by the relevant government agencies.
"The issues that have been raised will be acted upon," said the official.