Primary School Students on Strike in Kuria, Kenya
It was quite a strange site as I sat on back of a boda (motorcycle taxi) on my way to Kehancha early one morning last week. We had set up a meeting with the District Education Officer (DEO) to speak to him about all that we did for choosing a school to sponsor. We needed to have him set up a meeting with the parents at Taragwiti Primary School to obtain their approval for sponsorship. It was an exciting time for our program as finding and setting up a sponsored school is crucial for our new strategic direction. It would be the base for starting our interventions and a place where we can really show improvement as a model school.
Taragwiti Primary School is located on the road to Kehancha and that’s where we saw some commotion on our way to see the DEO. Dozens of uniformed students were running up the street with branches in hand and chanting. My boda driver asked what the students were doing and they said they were striking against their school – Taragwiti – and marching towards Kehancha to bring a complaint to the DEO. The students wanted the head teacher removed immediately and a complete change to all the staff because they were not learning. The boda driver and I were both amazed that students were striking. The situation had become hopeless with a head teacher who never showed up to school and therefore was not keeping the teachers accountable. When we chose Taragwiti as the school to sponsor, one of the reasons was because of its poor performance and need for overhaul especially at the top, but we did not realize how bad the situation had become.
It is about a 40 minute boda ride from Taragwiti to the DEO’s office in Kehancha. Marching there on foot would have taken the students several hours. Indeed on our way back from Kehancha at around noon, we saw the students sitting a bit outside of town. However, they had been intercepted by some education officers who did not want the students to embarrass them by striking at the District compound. Eventually the students were taken by truck back to Taragwiti and parents were invited to a meeting at the school that afternoon. The DEO tried to squash further discontent at the meeting and announced a meeting with Nuru and the parents for the 21st of June (we set the date with the DEO that morning at our meeting).
Though I have yet to learn about the fate of the current head teacher, the timing of everything was very interesting. It should give us a great opportunity to step in and change the academic setting at Taragwiti with parental support. We think that the approval process will be even smoother because of this incident and make our decision more credible in the eyes of the entire community. I am very excited about this as our program moves forward and though I will not be here to personally witness the school open under Nuru sponsorship, I cannot wait until we officially become the sponsor.
About Thomas Hong
Leadership Program Director — Thomas has worked in education and leadership development in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. He holds a B.A. in Economics and master’s degree in teaching from the University of Virginia and an MBA in international organizations from the University of Geneva.Read More Stories of Hope