Mufutu Secondary School in Lugari Constituency has been closed indefinitely after students held demonstrations to lament a number of issues they say are affecting their learning.
The school principal Mr. Tom Kitiabi, who is at the center of the school’s debacle and to whom we spoke to on Monday morning, said a section of the students staged demos just after assembly and went on to vandalize school property by throwing stones around, destroying (three) doors and window panes.
Lugari Sub-county Officer Commanding Police Department (OCPD), Bernard Ngungu, said his team was immediately called to attention by the principal and was swift enough to calm the situation and prevented more property from being destroyed.
This was a culmination of what happened on Friday when 34 Form Four students protested being served rice instead of ugali which got finished by Form Twos and Form Threes while the senior students were doing their exams, the principal said.
The students, on Monday morning after causing unrest in school, hit the road led by their leaders to Lugari Centre Market at the Assistant County Commissioner’s office and brought the education’s office in Lumakanda to attention.
They wanted to be addressed not by their school principal or his deputy, but by any officer from the educations office or administrator.
They had with them a number of grievances, among them insufficient food in the school, poor hygiene, mistreatment by the school management, missing lessons and teachers’ absenteeism.
OCPD Ngungu confirmed that the director of education in the sub-county, Magdeline Igwatai, closed the school indefinitely to allow for negotiations with the school board of management (BOM), teachers and parents (in a meeting to be held today) to try find a long-lasting solution to the problem that seems to have taken root and has been affecting the performance of leaners.
The senior police officer said the decision was arrived upon after the senior education officers in the sub-county engaged the students and security personnel, led by Lugari OCS Philip Bor, in a full-fledged talk on their grievances.
The students were sent home indefinitely even before returning to school.
We spoke to one of the parents, Mr. Philip Okutu, who has a student in Form One and Form Three. He told us that yesterday’s protests were an aftermath of a lack of responsibility by the school management in involving parents in running the school affairs.
Mr. Okutu said parents wrote an advisory letter to the principal demanding address to some key issues including installing a functional PA but the school head has turned a deaf ear on them.
He, and many other parents, want the management changed and parents’ role in running the public school reinstated.
“We want the issues addressed in the BOM meeting before the students get back to school. A PA should be formed before they resume and measures put up to better the school’s performance in the forthcoming KCSE exam,” he said.
Reply from the school principal
Our attempts to reach out to the school principal Mr. Tom Kitiabi to answer some of the raised allegations were futile because his phone was switched off.
Sam Oduor is the editor-in-chief at the Western Kenya Times who leverages the power of the Internet in telling stories that shape opinions.