An enraged parent has exposed a list of underlying malpractices threatening to poison the learning environment at a private girls’ day secondary school within Nairobi County.
In an exclusive e-mail forwarded to our inbox, the source gives a full point-by-point account of how Riara Girls’ High School Principal Mrs. Jane Mulinge has been negligently perpetuating a toxic environment at the formerly top-rated learning institution.
Mrs. Mulinge is accused of among other things; harboring toxic vices of victimization, favoritism, body-shaming, and religious discrimination of the frustrated Form 3 and 4 students.
According to the furious parent, the school has been actively trying to silence the girls who recently voiced their concerns during an impromptu interactive session that the Principal did not seem to appreciate.
In fact, just days after a resolution that the issues be addressed, Mrs. Mulinge went ahead and breached the teacher-student-parent agreement and unleashed terror on all the students that had spoken up during the meeting.
There seems to be an unhealthy culture/ toxic environment being perpetuated by the Principal of Riara Girls High School in total disregard to the values and mission of the School.
On 1st February 2022, I attended an interactive meeting of Form 3 parents and teachers at the school.
After the meeting parents were
allowed some time to bond with the girls.
During this time the girls in Form 3V (now going to Form 4V) requested a session with the parents which we obliged to.
The girls wanted to share concerns they had about school and needed our intervention as parents for the issues to be addressed before they proceed to their final academic year in May.
The girls acknowledged that the pressure has been highly attributed to the need to complete the syllabus in good time however the learning environment is not conducive.
Some of the concerns they raised were:
- Victimization of Class 3V; “3V is always picked on by teachers.”
- Favoritism – Grade A and above-average students are treated differently. Eg: In case of any misdemeanor by a group of students, the “A students” will not be punished while the rest will be punished.
- Body-Shaming of some of the students by teachers.
- Hostile communication from some teachers i.e Shouting and talking down at them. As parents, we witnessed this first hand when a senior teacher joined the session we were having with the girls. He shouted at the girls to go back to class showing a complete lack of empathy as most of the girls seemed quite unhappy and those that had spoken up were balancing tears/on their verge of crying as they shared. Considering the circumstances he showed a complete lack of concern and failed to reassure parents but instead chose to tell us that the meeting was illegal and should not have been allowed.
- Religion – Lack of sensitivity, tolerance, and respect towards those holding different religious beliefs.
Following this impromptu session with the girls and noting that it had been disbanded without any closure we tasked our class representatives, made up of parents, to follow up the issue with the school management and possibly arrange a session for parents and teachers asap to deliberate, understand and address the concerns raised.
It is now 6 weeks after this incident and we have not heard or received any formal response/ feedback from the school except that the issues raised by the girls were “addressed” and the same should be confirmed when the girls come home for holidays.
The girls closed school last week and I engaged my daughter in the incident in an effort to understand how it was dealt with. She was reluctant to discuss it only saying everything is okay. On further prodding, she explained exactly what happened and disclosed that they were specifically instructed by the Principal not to discuss the issue with their parents.
In summary, the following is how the Principal addressed the issue:
1. Profile the girls – identify the girls who had spoken up/ perceived negative voices in the class
2. Intimidation – she called the “said” girls to her office where they were forced to tell her all the negative things they had said about the school.
3. Threatening them to silence – Instructing the girls not to tell their parents what had happened and barring them from discussing it any further.
This amounts to bullying and worse off coming from the Principal who should set the right tone by upholding the highest level of ethical and professional standards.
Madam Principal I recall when my daughter joined Form 1, Dr. Eddah Gachukia or Shosho as the girls fondly call her had a candid discussion with them and assured them of an enabling and conducive learning environment devoid of bullying.
She even told them to write to her in case they ever felt unhappy with anything in school or at home.
Shosho your girls have reached out to us as parents unfortunately they have been condemned, silenced, and victimized for speaking up.
As a parent, my voice has also been silenced as I cannot speak up for my daughter will be victimized for breaking the code of silence.
To the high handed Principal and Senior Management Team:
1. Why are you not upholding the mission and values of the school? As a parent, I pay a premium to allow my daughter access a holistic education that enables each learner to acquire knowledge and to develop social and moral values through a friendly learning environment where professionals help each student realize their highest potential.
2. What are you teaching the girls about
– Leadership and abuse of power?
– Giving and receiving feedback?
– Speaking up?
– Conflict resolution?
– Handling differences in opinions?
– Breaking the bias?
3. Mental illness is a real concern in our society today and can stem from a toxic environment. Let us encourage open communication and accommodate divergent views.
Below are some of the chats evidencing concerns raised by parents and frustration at the apparent lack of action/ silence from the school’s management.
Concerned Parent,” the source writes.
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