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January 20, 2019

Concern as sexual molestation in schools on the rise

The admission by the Teachers Service Commission that it had fired some 126 tutors in just one year for having sexual relations with their students shows how deep the rot runs in many public schools.

So bad is the situation that hardly a month goes by without a teacher appearing in court accused of sexually molesting or harassing students.

In a response filed to a case filed by an NGO on behalf of two girls who were molested by their teacher in Nakuru, TSC confirmed the mischief of teachers defiling students.

The numbers, according to TSC, have been increasing over the years from 121 cases in 2009/2010 to 164 in 2010/2011.

Due to the rising cases, TSC has been forced to launch a website to publish names of teachers who have defiled students, as part of its own effort to name and shame its employees in the hope it will halt the dangerous slide.

The Kenya National Association of Parents admits the rising cases of molestation of students by teachers was of concern to parents and calls on the TSC to do more to reign in the offending teachers.

KNAP secretary general Musau Ndunda argues that the onus is on TSC as the employer of teachers to ensure the safety of children while in the school environment.

“The TSC needs to come up with a clear policy on this,” he states. “Posting the names of the offending teachers on the website is not enough. TSC should take the lead in ensuring that such teachers are prosecuted because sexual molestation is criminal under the Sexual Offences Act,” he says.

He argues that in the wake of the increase in the vice, there is need for amendments to the TSC Act to include punitive measures that will ensure sex pests are prosecuted.

“The TSC Act is very silent on some of these things even though the trend has reached worrying levels,” Ndunda notes.

The Act talks about sexual molestation but ignores the more pressing and prevalent sexual harassment, which Ndunda says must be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

Ndunda’s sentiments are shared by Awendo MP Jared Kopiyo. “It is upon the TSC to put in place disciplinary measures that will ensure that learners are protected from those teachers who exhibit these criminal tendencies,” Kopiyo says.

Even though the TSC has chosen to publish names of the offending teachers on the website, this has, however, failed to deter teachers from preying on their students.

The 126 teachers blacklisted were found guilty of having sexual relations with students and other misconduct. Out of this number, 96 teachers were found guilty of having sexual relations with students.

Of these, 124 are male and two are female. Anyone who enlists the services of the teachers will be jailed for six months or fined up to Sh500,000.

However critics of the naming and shaming argue that the circular has, however, failed to guarantee or create a safe academic environment for the girl-child in Kenya to enjoy the right to education and health.

While conceding that the TSC had taken commendable action in launching the website and releasing the circular, the critics argue that the action is incomplete as it lays emphasis on the disciplinary measures taken against rogue teachers but were not directed at the rights of the students to education or health.

As the debate heats up, Ndunda is of the view that parents must take the bold step of speaking out on the vice if and when it arises.

“It is the parents who must come out and openly and speak out about this problem because most often the victims tend to keep quiet out of fear of stigmatisation and only parents can voice their concerns,” he says.

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