Kenya: Penalties on Students Over School Fires Harsh

3 December 2021

In what is turning out to be a fresh crisis in the education sector, thousands of students are yet to report back to school because their parents cannot raise the fines imposed to repair damages caused by fires.

Heads and boards of more than 44 affected schools are also demanding that parents, many reeling under economic sting of the Covid-19 pandemic, clear fee balances before their children can be readmitted.

This is not only punitive but also against the Education ministry's directive that no student should be sent home over fee balances. It also runs afoul of the children's right to education.

Some of the affected learners are Form Four candidates with barely three months to their national examinations. The rest are equally disadvantaged. They may not recover time lost when schools were closed for months due to Covid-19.

The standoff has rocked schools, as depicted in the confrontation at Maranda Boys High School yesterday, is affecting the crash programme to cover the syllabus. It is also creating unnecessary tension in educational institutions at a time when we should be fostering calm and concentration as children approach their exams.

Urgent measures should be taken to resolve this situation and bring the unfolding dramas to an end.

We call on principals and administrators to be more understanding as they address the financial dilemmas facing the affected schools. They should handle each case individually and give students from needy backgrounds more time to find the money, but allow them to continue with their studies. he ministry should also investigate claims that some school heads are charging too much for the damage.

Lastly, teachers should stop victimisation of students, parents and staff suspected to have played roles in unrest without evidence. All cases should be duly investigated by competent authorities and those found culpable subjected to the rule of law.

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