St Anne Academy Kajulu in Kisumu East was temporarily turned from an examination centre into a battleground after parents stormed the school over confusion on candidates’ registration.
This was after the school which had 46 standard eight pupils allegedly registered only 20 top-performing ones at the centre, and dumped the rest in a public school in the neighbouring Muhoroni Sub County.
Sources claimed that the move was to avoid tainting the school’s performance ranking in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination.
The drama began on Tuesday morning when two parents visited the school to ascertain the rumour which had been going around that their children were not in school for the examinations.
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The parents overpowered the school watchman, and accessed the compound after a push and pull at the gate, raising tension among invigilators and candidates.
Joseph Otieno, a parent, said he had gone to school to check on his sickly son just to ensure that he was in good state ahead of the examination.
“It is sad that there is word going around that our children are not in school, yet we were here two days ago for the prayer day, and we left them behind,” he said.
According to the parents, they saw their children last on Sunday, during the prayer day, and the school management requested them to allow the candidates to be accommodated in school for the examination period so as to avoid any inconveniences.
“Despite my boy being sickly, I was glad that he would only be away for three days, during the examination period and then he will be back home,” he said.
And during the Sunday meeting, parents paid Sh1, 000 each for the kid’s feeding program, as well as Sh1, 000 each for graduation which had been scheduled to take place four days after the end of the national examination.
However, the scheme was discovered on Monday, when a parent called the class teacher to inquire about the well-being of his son only to discover that his son was not in school.
“When I spoke to the kid, he appeared frightened, and the environment seemed strange, judging from the background noise. When I probed further, the teacher intervened claiming that children are always frightened during examinations,” said a parent who sought anonymity.
But after further inquiry, an inside source from the school intimated to him that his son was among the 26 who had been registered at Karunga Primary School, about 20 kilometre deep in Nyando Sugar belt.
The source claimed that this has been happening in the school for a long period and that parents must intervene to stop it.
The parents shared the information in their WhatsApp group, eliciting reactions, which saw some of them visit the school to confirm if their children could have been victims.
Most of them were barred from accessing the school compound. Attempts to reach the management on phone were futile forcing them to visit the school today morning.
Zena Audi, another affected parent said she went to the school and missed her son.
“What pains is that we were not informed of any of such arrangements. Why did they allow us to pay fees thinking that our children are pupils in this school, only to reject them at the examination time?” she posed.
Alice Nyamungu, another parent claimed she also got the information about the issue from a friend, which forced her to visit the school in the morning.
“We know the rules do not require people within the examination area at this time, but as a parent, I have a right to know the whereabouts of my child, especially when such kind of information comes up. I do not understand how the school can defend itself should something bad happens to our children where they were taken without our knowledge,” she said.
The parents claimed their children had been allocated a dusty classroom at Karunga School to spend the night during the exam period.
As things got out of hand, the police officer in charge of the security at the centre called for reinforcement before the parents moved out camping outside the gate.
Headteacher Martin Kokiro declined to comment on the matter, saying he was new in the school.
“I joined this school a few months ago, and those things were done before I came, so I advise that you look for the school director wherever you can find him,” he said.
The school management was however not available on phone for a comment.
County Director of Education Isaak Atebe confirmed that they had received information about the stalemate, and had sent officers to the school.
“As at now we do not want to interfere with the candidates who are already doing their examinations, and we are going to do our part and present our report to the relevant offices,” he said.
Atebe addressed the issue in the presence of basic Education PS Bellio Kipsang who supervised the dispatch and delivery of examinations in Kisumu.