A school in Homa Bay County has suspended two Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates, the first for speaking vernacular and the second for alleged provocation, a few weeks before national exams.
The first case was a female KCSE candidate at Lala Secondary School who was accused of speaking Dholuo, her mother tongue, in class. The second, a male student, is accused of instigating his classmates by reading aloud the first student’s leave out paperwork.
Both students have remained at home for two weeks, with their parents concerned that they will not be able to graduate from high school.
The female student was suspended on September 28 after allegedly speaking in Dholuo when a Ministry of Education official was present at the school.
According to Principal Kennedy Nyamolo, the student broke school policy by speaking in languages other than Kenya’s official languages.
“We have a language policy but the students violated it when she spoke in Dholuo in front of a visitor,” he said.
She is said to have declined to come out and admit that she violated school rules.
Teachers who heard her speak asked her fellow students to identify whoever had broken the school rules, but no one was willing to reveal her identity.
According to the principal, it was difficult to tell who spoke in the local language because the students were in a group.
School management then decided to use a formula of identifying whoever had violated the rules. Mr Nyamolo said they decided to isolate students based on gender before they could identify the culprit.
“Since the voice was of a female student, we had to separate the two genders to narrow down on who had violated the rules,” he said.
“No student could still identify her and report her to the teachers because she was being protected by her classmates. It took some time before some students decided to reveal that she was the one who spoke in Dholuo.”
The student was asked to go home after she was identified as the one who broke the school rules. She said she was instructed to report back during rehearsals for KCSE.
The male student, identified as Victor Ogono, was sent home after he was accused of trying to incite other students.
He is reported to have taken a leave-out sheet that was given to Ochuti and read it in front of other students, something that the school principal claimed could have provoked the other learners.
Ochuti’s mother, Ms Eunice Achieng’, said she is concerned that her daughter may fail to get a grade that will enable her to proceed to university.
She said her daughter has been longing to go back to school so that she can catch up with her lessons.
“Learning has reached a critical moment especially to national exams candidates and no time should be wasted. My daughter has been crying for missing class,” Ms Achieng said.
According to her, she was suspended because of fee balance of Sh25,000.
“I believe the fee balance played a role in my daughter being sent home,” Ms Achieng’ said.