A prestigious girls’ secondary school in Baringo County is under scrutiny for inviting only fathers and male guardians of Form Three learners to an academic day slated for this Saturday.
The message sent to parents of Kapropita Girls High School in Baringo Central, and seen by Nation, shows that only male parents are expected to attend the forum, “without fail”.
Reads the message: “Hello parents and guardians, you are reminded of the academic day scheduled on June 11, 2022. As it was earlier indicated, only fathers are expected without fail. The consultation between the subject teachers, fathers and their daughters will begin at 9am. Be punctual.”
The message has sparked uproar from some parents and locals, who complained that the school was insensitive to students who, for various reasons, don’t have fathers.
Led by human rights activist Isaiah Biwott, they claimed that school administrators should be humane and sensitive to girls who are orphans or children of single mothers.
“The parents’ meeting requires that strictly only male parents are needed to attend. What happens to the girls who are orphans or from single-mother families?” said Mr Biwott.
“This is insensitive and it is causing a lot of embarrassment to such students. The school should stop discrimination in school.”
Godfrey Kipsoi, another human rights defender, said: “This is serious. I am very sure that there are no such regulations from the Ministry of Education. The school should think of alternative mechanisms to implement their desired idea.”
Ben Kulei also faulted the school administration, saying this should not happen in an era when many children don’t know their fathers.
“As a teacher, I am well informed that in this era, I am not even supposed to ask a learner who his or her father is. You only ask about the parents. We are living in times when children grow up not knowing who their fathers are,” said Mr Kulei.
Locals said the school managers are ignorant of the pain they are inflicting on single parents and orphaned students, adding that the decision was ill-advised.
Contacted for comment, Kapropita Girls Principal Jeniffer Kiprono said the objective was genuine and parents and locals should not take it out of context.
She said the school wants to bring on board father figures in the students’ lives as part of its psychosocial support approach to learning.
“The intention of bringing on board parents in academic issues was very pure and people should stop blowing it out of proportion. For those students who do not have fathers, they have male guardians including uncles, brothers and others,” said Ms Kiprono.
“When schools were closed due to the outbreak of Covid-19, many cases of teenage pregnancies were reported in the country, with the majority being school-going girls. When we have a father figure to guide them, such vices could be mitigated.”
She added that a similar meeting took place a month ago for Form Fours and only mothers were involved “and no one complained”.
“We fail to understand why this is sparking uproar when we have very good intentions for our girls,” Ms Kiprono said.
In his Madaraka Day speech, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the 2019 national census had revealed that the face of the Kenyan family was evolving, with families headed by single parents rising from 25.1 percent in 2009 to 38.2 percent in 2019.
The President described the trend as a threat to Kenya’s traditional values and the family as the basic unit of society.
“If unchecked, this trend shall destroy the fundamental character of Kenya and reap untold harm onto our most vulnerable and precious members of society,” he said.