11 February 2013

Kenya: Kilifi Students Sent Home Over Bread Row

More than 400 students from Kilifi Township Secondary School were yesterday suspended after they rejected tea with a quarter loaf of bread. The Form I, II and III students reportedly refused to take breakfast because the quarter loaf of bread baked in the school was too small.

Trouble started when the students assembled in dining hall in the morning and rejected the piece of bread. They protested in front of the teachers and demanded a bigger loaf or else they would not attend classes.

The students sang solidarity songs outside the dining hall. When journalists arrived at the school the students were carrying their metallic boxes, books and mattresses heading for home.

"We have been suspended for demanding our right, the quantity of bread which was given to us was too small," said one of the students.

"The teachers refused to listen to our grievances, instead the administration asked us to leave." The students claimed that was not the first time they were complaining over the size of the bread. They said their complaints had gone unheeded for long.

A form three student said the administration had called police officers from Kilifi police station to ensure they went home. The school's deputy principal Nicholas Githina Wanjiru said they decided to send the students home to prevent destruction of property.

Wanjiru said the students ignored pleas from the administration and Parents Teachers Association chairman to take their breakfast as they looked into the matter.

The deputy head teacher said each student gets a 100 grams of bread. "The boys complained the loaf was too small to be shared by four students," he said. "The students refused to be addressed by the teachers even after a meeting was held with the student leaders."

"They want bread to be supplied from outside which not possible as there is a bakery at the school" he said.

Wanjiru said they reported the matter to the District Education officer who advised them to monitor the situation and suspend all students if there situation persisted.

"We have written suspension letters to all of them and forms twos are expected to be back on Monday (today) while form threes and form fours are expected on Thursday. Every student is supposed to report at the school accompanied b y his parent," he said.

The deputy head teacher dismissed allegations that security personnel had roughed up students saying they helped in preventing any vandalism. He said the school had a history which dates back to over 10 years of vandalizing property whenever there was unrest.

"We came with the decision of suspending them in order to prevent any destruction, it is unfortunate that the school which is bordering the newly commissioned Pwani university opened by president Mwai Kibaki could be in disciplined," he said.

The school is among those selected to be an institution of excellence so as to act as an example in the entire county.

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