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Of school administrators who treat parents like children

By FILEX MURIITHI | November 2nd 2013


My father recently sent me to my sister’s school. The school principal had sent home students (my sister included) who had not paid their school fees and that each student’s parent or guardian must accompany them when they returned with the money.

The school, though located within Embu County is far from our home. When we arrived, we met several other parents and guardians waiting a distance from the school offices. I joined them then asked one of them who if there was a queue and who the first person was. I was dismayed to discover that none of them had seen either the principal or the teacher on duty.

“I entered in the secretary’s office and after explaining what I had come to do, I was directed here. I have stayed for almost three hours. It is cold and I am freezing,” an elderly woman said.

Her reply stirred other parents who had waited just as long.

“Tumezoea, sio leo pekee! Siku nyingine nilikuwa nimeitwa na mwalimu mkuu kwa ajili ya mwanangu.  Nilifika saa mbili nikatoka saa kumi, (We are used to it. It’s not just today. Another day I was called by the principal over some issues, I arrived at 8 am and left at 4pm),” a man of about 70 years said.

A few minutes later, a youthful parent walked through the gate. With him was a girl who looked like she could have been in Form Two. Quietly, we followed their progress as they walked toward the office and, shortly, as they walked in our direction.

I approached them asking, “Why do you look so angry?”

He replied, “My daughter was to join the school and was to report today. We had cleared the fees and we expected that all that was left for her to join the others in class. But we have gone to the principal’s office and found him watching a movie on a TV. He ordered us to stay outside,” he said.

“You are better, we haven’t even seen him. The secretary ordered us to wait here,” I replied.

I started to wonder whether it was ‘parents’ punishment day’ when I saw the students come out for lunch and return for afternoon classes. By then, not one parent had seen the principal. We could see teachers walking along the corridors but not one had bothered with our presence or how we could be assisted.

Shortly, we saw several teachers walking out of the gate, leaving for home. Then  I decided to confront the ‘busy’ principal.

The secretary was not there so I knocked on the principal’s door. I walked into the office and found him watching TV.

“How can I help you, young man?” he asked. Within minutes, I had paid the fees and my sister was allowed to resume classes.

I later found out that after that, he only met with four parents and ordered the others to come back the following morning. The bitter truth is that some teachers treat parents like children who have no other meaningful business to go back to. In the first place, why should school administrators summon parents if they feel they are too busy to meet them?

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