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Principals: School boards subject us to tribal ridicule

EDUCATION
By Osinde Obare | April 27th 2021

Headteachers attend the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association annual conference in Mombasa. They claim the institutions are being micromanaged by boards of management and education officials. [File, Standard]

Some secondary school heads who were delocalised now claim they are being subjected to tribal ridicule and intimidation by the local communities.

The principals claim the schools are also being micromanaged by the boards of management and education officials from the communities.

The headteachers, who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity, said some Board of Management (BoM) chairs, who are signatories to the schools’ bank accounts, intentionally refuse to sign cheques to enable the teachers to withdraw money to facilitate institutions’ operations.

Uasin Gishu County Director of Education Patrick Mbaka confirmed that his office was handling complaints from some affected principals.

“So far my office is dealing with two cases from Kapkoiga and Kerita schools in Kesses Sub-county,” said Mbaka.

The two cases involve principals who are at loggerheads with BoM members and local education officials over alleged intimidation and interference.

In one of the schools, the principal differed with the BoM chairman when she tried to make administrative changes at the institution after a worker was found to be incompetent.

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The school’s auditor had recommended the removal of the accounts clerk after she failed to submit books of account for audit.

But the proposal was rejected by the BoM members, who argued that the employee hails from the local community and cannot be removed from office.

“The auditor recommended the removal of the accounts clerk due to lack of accountancy skills but the board opposed the move. Since then, there is no harmony between the board and the principal,” said a teacher at the school.

An education official who hails from the local community is also accused of frustrating the principal.

“The board chairman and the education official are from the local community. They want to micromanage the school; they have frustrated me and I feel demoralised,” said the headteacher. The principal argued that though she is the custodian of the school’s finances, she has been reduced to “a mere clerk” as the BoM and education official run the show.

“The board chairman and education official have taken over the supervisory role. They dictate persons to be awarded tenders and how much to be paid. Some even call me a foreigner,” she said.

At a school in Bomet County, a principal had to seek the intervention of the county director of education to have the BoM chairman sign a cheque for the school operations. “When the principal from a different community was posted to the school, the BoM chairman refused to sign cheques until the education county director summoned him to his office,” said a source.

According to the source, the BoM was opposed to the transfer of the former principal who hails from the local community.

In another school, the BoM chair, who is a university don, ordered the principal to submit the names of suppliers and issued directives as to who should be paid first.

The heads have urged the government to protect them from interference from both the communities and education officials.

Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) warned that such happenings will compromise schools’ performance and urged the government to ensure the heads are protected from community interference.

Kuppet National Secretary Edward Obwocha demanded that such malpractices be investigated and necessary action taken.

“For schools to achieve goals, the union urges school managers and the community to work in harmony, but if heads are being frustrated by the boards and education officials, then performance is at risk,” said Obwocha.

 

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