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New head teachers face growing opposition from local leaders

By Standard Team | Published Fri, January 12th 2018 at 00:01, Updated January 12th 2018 at 00:04 GMT +3
Police intervene as leaders attempt to block a new principal from entering the school. The protests are spreading across the country.

Five county politicians were arrested Thursday as a wave of protests against new head teachers swept across schools in the country.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) ordered the re-deployment of more than 500 long-serving head teachersto new schools.

However, the directive has sparked protests, with some leaders opposing the posting of some head teachers to their schools.

Locked up

Thursday, five Ward Reps were were locked up at Mtito-Andei Police Station after storming St. Joseph’s Girls-Kibwezi demanding that a principal who had just reported at the school leaves.

Thursday’s arrests were the latest twist in a stand-off between the teacher’s employer and politicians questioning the decision to move head teachers from schools they had led to examination success. 

Attacks against new head teachers have been reported in Bungoma, Vihiga, Kisii, Siaya, West Pokot and Kisumu. Some of the attacks have been led by MCAs and in some cases targeted existing school heads considered to be ineffective.

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On Wednesday, four Bungoma Ward Reps dramatically ejected the new Principal of Friends School Kamusinga Boys.

Governor Wycliffe Wangamati had earlier warned that he would not allow some head teachers to be posted to schools in the area.

In West Pokot, Kapenguria Boys High School was Thursday closed indefinitely after students protested the transfer of the school’s principal, James Omayo.

Police used tear gas to disperse the students who had taken their protest to the County Director of Education office.

In some cases the protests have not been against new head teacher but against current ones too.

In Siaya County, parents stormed Agwara mixed Secondary School in Bondo sub-county demanding the removal of head teacher Stephen Kosewe, whom they accused of delivering poor results.

They claimed the best of the school’s 17 candidates attained a grade D plain in the recent Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KSCE).

Another teacher, Yonah Oyugi, of Uradi Primary School in Kisumu West was last week wounded after he was attacked by parents.

Police warning

As the protests become more violent, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett has warned that they were illegal and would be met with the full force of the law. 

Boinnet said security would be provided to all schools and asked head teachers who felt threatened to seek police protection.

“We will not allow people to interfere with learning in schools in the name of ejecting principals they don’t like. That is not their work,” said Boinnet.

The evictions are generating concern among education observers, who have called for an end of violent evictions.

Principal Secretary Vocational and Technical Training Dinah Mwinzi asked those that have any grievances against head teachers to use the right channels.

She said the protests against head teachers transfers were being blown out of proportion.

“Out of all 500 teachers transferred from their stations only two cases had been opposed and these should not taint the entire process,” said Ms Mwinzi.

National Assembly Education Committee Chairperson Julius Melly and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary General Akello Misori described the attacks against the school heads as archaic.

“It is wrong to threaten and evict a senior teacher the way the MCA’s did on Wednesday.We have civilized ways of handling issues and solving problems,” said Mr Melly.

Mr Misori described those conducting the evictions as goons, saying the argument about poor school performance was invalid.

“The scenes we are seeing are orchestrated by non-professionals,” said Misori.

Kenya National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo also condemned the evictions.

[Reports by Nasibo Kabale, Lydia Nyawira, Stephen Nzioka, Isiah Gwengi, Raphael Wanjala, Dalton Nyambundi, Eric Abuga, and Irissheel Shanzu]

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