Written by Jane Muthoni Thursday, 09 February 2012 10:50
The 12 girls sent away for ‘lesbianism’ in Moi Kadzonzo Girls Secondary School in Kilifi may have been forced to confess. Reports from some students and teachers say the head mistress may have acted to stem grumbling over problems in the institution that may have resulted into a strike soon.
According to reports, students had been complaining about the high handedness of the principal among other things. Thus, branding those seen as ringleaders may have been a way to scare those who were planning some sort of internal revolt.
These speculations add to fuel the fire of discontent started when the headmistress Doris Kavuku said there was no evidence the girls were lesbians. She was quoted as saying they only suspected because the girls hugged and kissed ‘excessively’. Kavuku said there would be investigations to confirm the charges.
There is speculation that when the head teacher did not get the support she had hoped she would for expelling them, some students were coerced to confess their ‘sins’.
A letter from one of the students reads: “I have been practising lesbianism with Naomi as my partner. I called the media and they came to the school to ask questions. I also lied to my mum and also called for a strike, which was going to happen in term two.” This contradicts the real events of the day the 12 were expelled.
Those privy to the details say the head teacher called the media after she has expelled the students. She on camera said that she did not want the ‘culprits’ to infect others with the disease. “Have you ever kissed a person of the same sex?” This was one of the statements she used to justify her actions. The other puzzle in the ‘lesbianism’ saga is in the student’s letter; she claimed to have lied to her mum and called for a strike. The expulsion did not mention any other pending disciplinary cases for any of the students. Observers say it is curious that the student even confessed to things that she was not required to.
“When the student said she lied to her mum, like it is written in the letter, what did she mean? When she said she had planned a strike in Term Two, what did that mean? Posed a human rights activist.
According to the activist, the issues in the student’s letter are too many
and unrelated. In the letter, the student also agrees to go for guidance and counselling from the principal and not involve herself in a group. Usually, schools have counsellors and there are specific teachers or people tasked to do this. It would hardly therefore the work of the principal to do that. Again, it seems the student has been made to believe groups are bad. The question therefore is, at what point does the school allow interaction? “It is unlikely that with the work that a principal has they would get time to do individual counselling for students,” says a teacher in a school in Nairobi.
Granted, the Kadzonzo school principal had time to counsel the students, the concern is what the content of the sessions would be. In the letter, the student says she would change to ‘be a good person and put God first in everything she does’. “Without doubt, the student, if that was her confession in the first place, has been asked to prejudge herself. There is nothing spiritual about her confession to put God first. She was meant to believe, if indeed she held or kissed another girl, she was a sinner,” says Christine Mwangi, a student of psychology at the University of Nairobi.
“Often, guilt trips just damage the person instead of helping them. Those girls would need counselling for trauma the incident has caused them rather than their alleged misconduct. Imagine the torment from other students, “she adds.
Sadly, due to prejudices, some parents agreed to read their daughters the riot act and now they are back to the school. Blinded by this, parents have refused to play their duties to establish the underlying problem in the school. They should have posed to ask: “Why did some of the teachers dispute the head mistresses version of events? Why were their daughters expelled without proof?
This is the second expulsion in less than six months. Last year, students in Moi High School in Eldoret were expelled over the same matter of lesbianism. Nothing came out of the ‘investigation’ and things just went quiet.
When moral issues, stereotypes and misinformation form the basis of why a female student should be expelled from school, the education system fails in its role, says Christine.
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