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Parents protest against high fine charged by school to rebuild dorm

By Kevine Omollo | Sep 27th 2016 | 2 min read
Students stare their burnt dormitory at Rang'ala boys high school in Siaya county that was destroyed by fire on September 9 2016. Ministry of Education officials have been sent to Rang'ala Boys Secondary School after parents accused the management of fraud. (PHOTO: COLLINS ODUOR/ STANDARD)

Ministry of Education officials have been sent to Rang'ala Boys Secondary School after parents accused the management of fraud.

The parents had expressed dissatisfaction with the school's decision to fine them about Sh6 million to rebuild a dormitory that burnt down two weeks ago.

According to the parents, the rebuilding should cost less than Sh1 million but the school administration insisted that each guardian must pay Sh9,000.

With a student population of about 670, the money would amount to Sh6 million, which parents claimed was way above what contractors quoted for putting up a new structure.

But John Sewe, the school principal, downplayed the allegations that he overcharged the parents. Mr Sewe said the school management arrived at the amount by relying on relevant and authoritative documents dictated by the amount of loss that occurred in arriving at the fin.

"This is not an arbitrary decision. One of our dorms is completely down and a new structure must be put up from the substructure. We also have major repairs and acquisition of beds," said Sewe.

New development

County Director of Education Nerea Olik yesterday confirmed that she had sent a team of officers from her office to assess the situation before any action can be taken on the matter. She admitted that the principal had not briefed her of the new development on the fines.

"I tried to reach the principal by phone to get the facts but he was unavailable. I am currently away but my officers are on the ground assessing the situation. Their report should be out later this evening (yesterday)," said Ms Olik.

"The school has about 700 students and we are suspecting some collusion between the school management and other stakeholders to fleece parents," said a parent who sought anonymity.

"It is unfortunate that even with the huge fine, the school management has declined to help the affected students replace what they lost in the fire. All students are being advised to buy new bedding and uniforms on their own," he added.

The parent said the management did not communicate how they reached the Sh9,000 fine or explain the cause of the fire, which was said to have been as a result of an electric fault.

"We were expecting the school management to call a parents' meeting to deliberate over the damage and how we can help restore the situation, not come up with exaggerated fines," said another parent.

The school was closed two weeks ago following the fire.

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