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Exposed: The inhumanity of Nairobi School bullies

Nairobi School on the spot after allegations of bullying emerged.

When parents take their children to public boarding schools, most, if not all, imagine their well-being, safety and security is insured.

Never in their dreams do they imagine receiving calls to go pick their molested kids from school.

However, the horrific story of a 15-year-old Form Two student at Nairobi School alleged to have been assaulted brutally to the extent of suffering brain damage has kicked up a stink.

The story, highlighted by Citizen TV's Dorcas Wangira on Monday night, paints a grim picture of the vice that is bullying in public institutions.

A Facebook user, Ndungu Nyoro, blew the whistle on the plight of the student, sparking a heated conversation.

Nyoro shared WhatsApp screenshots of how the student's parents were asked to go pick their son from school and take him to see a psychiatrist as he "appeared mentally ill."

Screenshots shared via WhatsApp showing a parent alerting others about an alleged bullying incident at Nairobi School.

The student claimed to have been beaten up repeatedly by prefects. His condition deteriorated leading him to being withdrawn from the school.

In an interview, the boy's mother said when she picked him from school on Sunday, his condition had gotten worse.

"He is dazed. He has to wear diapers. He cannot recall even his own siblings," the mum said. "His classmates reckon his behavior having changed for the past one and half weeks. He would go to the wrong class sometimes," she continued.

The school's clinician said it seemed like the boy had been beaten continuously with his last beating being on Friday last week.

According to the mother, her son the student said he had suffered beating since he was in Form one.

One such time, he claims to have been beaten by a prefect for not wearing a tie. A classmate of his once suffered an arm fracture.

Screenshots shared via WhatsApp showing a parent alerting others about an alleged bullying incident at Nairobi School.

 

When Citizen TV sought comment from the school's administration, it denied knowledge of the assault saying, "We only learnt of the alleged allegations on social media."

Standard Digital can confirm that Health Ministry officials were expected to give a report following the alleged assault of the Nairobi School student.

Ministry of Education officials were holding a closed door meeting with the management of Nairobi School over the incident and were expected to give a brief this afternoon.

The student, who is said to have been beaten by prefects, is to undergo a brain surgery as a medical examination conducted on Monday revealed fluid in the brain.

 What is Hydrocephalus?

Radiology revealed that the boy had a buildup of fluid in the brain (a condition known as Hydrocephalus) that needs urgent medical attention.

According to Mayo Clinic, the excess fluid increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain.

Its symptoms vary at different ages but mostly include vomiting, sleepiness, irritability, poor feeding, seizures, poor response to touch and poor growth.

Bullying not new

Cases of bullying in public schools are not new. 

In March 2017, a damning report by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) over life threatening bullying thrust Alliance High School in the spot light.

Blow-by-blow accounts of the victims of the bullying by prefects and senior students, as contained in the report, painted the picture of a collapsed system where students live in fear.

The details, contained in a Ministry of Education report, prompted the school's principal, Mr David Kariuki, to take early retirement.

Extracts of the testimonies revealed how the victims were forced to lie on graves, crawl on wet grass, and hug light bulbs as part of an initiation rite. Others claimed they were threatened with machetes.

The students narrated how "house committees" and prefects took them through traumatising rituals in what they called "induction" or "action" nights.

"During action nights, you are woken up by house committees and prefects and taken to the ironing bay, where you are subjected to all kinds of torture, including caning," said one student.

Another student said: "We were chased around the school with whips and belts by the prefects. Some of us were injured. Early in the morning we were woken up at 3am to lie on graves."

A week later, then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i ordered immediate investigations into the alleged incident.

A tough-talking Matiang'i said "time has come for anyone involved in the 'animal behaviour' to take responsibility and face consequences. We have taken this matter seriously and will silently resolve it."

Notably, most victims cited suffering in the hands of school prefects. 

Role of Prefects

Following the allegations, concern has been raised about the role school captains and prefects play, especially in Kenyan secondary schools.

What was once supposed to be servant leadership has suddenly turned 'cruel.'

Former Alliance Boys’ High School and Co-Founder of Nova Pioneer Academies Christopher Khaemba says there should be a “zero tolerance policy to bullying.”

“These incidents stem from prefects not understanding their roles properly. Bullying continues to persist because no one has taken a stand,” he adds.

John Kinuthia, Executive Chairman at Chief Executive Strategies and Solutions, who was also once a school prefect and a captain at Starehe Boys' Centre (Class of 1995) told Standard Digital that in his time, bullying was unheard of.

"In fact, Form Ones were given a grace period of first half term to acquaint themselves with the school rules, where even if they were found to have erred, they were not punished," he said.

"Sub prefects had no direct authority to punish students, but needed the authority of prefects" he explained.

Kinuthia says discipline is no longer what it used to be. "It was more of servant leadership then."