Voi Boys Secondary School in Taita Taveta County has received a lot of criticism after suspending ten students for eating an additional piece of bread during breakfast.
To receive the students back in school, the management demanded that each of the students report back with a bale of wheat flour and 10litres of cooking oil.
This controversial condition for re-admission from the management sparked a lot of disapproval and calls for action against the school by parents and member of the community.
The demands by the management have raised questions about the fairness and appropriateness of such a punishment as the country is grappling with the high cost of living.
According to some parents, the demand by the school is intended to punish them rather than the students.
Parents Decry Harsh Punishment
According to a report by Nation the students were suspended on Monday, July 31 during the onset of the second term examination.
“My son came home and told me that he took two portions of bread instead of one and he was ordered to go back with those items,” one of the parents explained.
Moreover, the parent recalls her experience with the management when she took her son to school on Tuesday, August 1.
She says the school’s deputy principal demanded that she clear her son’s school fees, buy the bale of wheat flour and cooking oil before his son could be allowed back in school.
“I had to buy them because other students were already sitting exams. Again, I did not want the school to victimize my child because of refusing to adhere to this,” she said.
Likewise, the parent noted that the decision has taken a financial toll on her as she had not budgeted for the items.
“I have spent Sh4,600 for the items and Sh1,500 for our transport to school. I have other responsibilities, and this is a punishment to me and not to my son,” she said.
Similarly, another parent said the school should have taken other actions rather than forcing them to buy the food items.
“They sent them home during the examination period and they know times are hard some parents cannot afford to buy these items. Some students will miss the exams because the parents do not have money,” he said.
Nonetheless, Elias Mberi who is the school’s parents’ representative noted that decision was reached during a meeting that was held to discourage such indiscipline among students.
“That is the practice in all schools across the country. In this case, the parent will now instill discipline in the child. The child will also see what the parent has gone through, and he will not repeat such a mistake,” he said.
Concerns have been raised about the approach the school has taken to not only punishing the students but their parents as well.
However, the question remains whether the move is fair considering the offence committed by the ten students was minor.
The parents, community members and education advocates are now calling for appropriate disciplinary measures for students.
“The Ministry of Education should conduct thorough investigations into this matter. Parents are passing through harsh economic times and they should not be subjected to such punitive decisions on behalf of their children,” said Mr Charles Mwadime, a parent.
Furthermore, Mwadime called on schools to reconsider their decisions and find more compassionate ways of disciplining rogue students.
In addition, the county director of Education Khalif Hirey said he has not received any complaint from the school or the parents.
However, he urged the parents to file a complaint to his office even as he investigates the incident.
“The parents should not shy away from coming to us. We will not victimize them because they are seeking justice. If that happens then we will not condone such kind of actions by schools,” he said.