Parents hit with huge bills to rebuild schools burnt by protesting students

Firefighters at Gachika Mixed Boarding School after a boys' dormitory went up in flames on July 31, 2016. Parents have started to feel the heat over widespread indiscipline that has led to burning of dormitories and classrooms. (PHOTO: MOSE SAMMY/ STANDARD)

Parents have started to feel the heat over widespread indiscipline that has led to burning of dormitories and classrooms.

At Itierio Boys High School, the first school to be torched, parents have now been hit with a Sh8 million bill to rebuild seven dormitories that were burnt down by students two months ago. This translates to Sh10,000 per student.

And parents of Muhoho High School in Gatundu South are up in arms after the board of management also slapped them with a Sh10,000 bill each to meet the expenses of repairing six classrooms burnt down a fortnight ago.

In Nakuru, Naivasha Sub-County Commissioner Isaac Masinde has said every parent with a child at Kiambogo High School where a dormitory was razed to the ground is expected to contribute Sh4,000 for reconstruction.

Julius Osiemo, a parent of Itierio Boys High, complained the amount was too high, adding: "We have no option but to pay the entire amount. We have also been requested to clear all the fees and buy other personal belongings that were burnt."

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i had directed school heads not to admit learners transferring from schools affected by the arson wave. About 120 schools have been hit by the fires.

According to the CS, all students seeking transfers must obtain clearance letters from Sub-County Director of Education so that it can be ascertained that they did not participate in the destruction of their schools.

Matiang'i has further maintained parents will have to foot the repair of the schools destroyed by their children.

Bonchari Constituency CDF Manager Eric Oigo said they have not given the school any funds due to the Government directive.

"We can only fund other projects in the school and not the rebuilding of the burnt dormitories. These are Government funds and we must stick to the regulations managing the kitty," said Mr Oigo.

Investigating agencies and the school management are yet to release names of students who could have participated in the school's arson.

The school's Principal Andrew Otara was interdicted after the incident and was replaced by Isaac Okeyo, who had served as Deputy Principal at Maseno High School.

Board's proposal

The interdiction of Mr Otara made parents holding demonstrations in Suneka, a town next to the school. They alleged discrimination against the principal.

Kisii County Women Representative Mary Sally, who is Mr Otara's wife, had called for the reinstatement of her husband, accusing the Ministry of Education of making hasty decisions.

Parents with children at Muhoho High School said they had rejected the board's proposal.

In the proposal, Form Four and Form Three students are supposed to each contribute Sh10,000 while Form One and Two will each part with Sh8,000.

The board gave the 860 students in the school a month to pay the money, failure to which they will not be accepted back once third term starts in September.

Parents who spoke to The Standard termed the amount high and out of reach for many parents in the current hard economic times.

"We feel the figure is on the higher side. It would have been good if the board accepted our proposal of Sh3,000 to Sh5,000 per student. Many of us cannot raise that kind of money. We are in fact yet to clear the fee balances," said Lawrence Kariuki, a parent.