The Teachers Service Commission, TSC, has given a detailed report on the response to the question regarding the untimely death of Jackline Chepng’eno, a pupil at Kabiangek Primary School in Konoin Sub County, Bomet County.
In the report, the Commission says it has sent Mrs. Jennifer Chemutai on compulsory leave. Mrs Chemutai was allegedly the main cause that led to the learner’s death; a notion that has since been quashed by the Commission’s preliminary investigations.
“The objective of sending the teacher on compulsory leave is to accord the Commission a conducive environment to conduct impartial investigations on the matter and confirm any professional culpability on the part of the teacher.
This will also accord the teacher her personal security and safety and grant her an opportunity to defend herself from the allegations and also accord her the due process of the law,” says the Commission boss Dr Nancy Macharia in the report.
Here is an excerpt from the Commission’s report;
The Commission launched investigations on the matter by constituting a joint investigating team comprising officers from the Commission and the State Department of Basic Education and Early Learning. The Investigating Team comprised of the following officers:-
a) County Director of Education;
b) TSC County Detector;
c) County Quality Assurance and Standards Officer;
d) Sub County Director of Education;
e) TSC Sub County Director;
f) Curriculum Support Officer in charge.
The team visited the school on 11th September, 2019 to investigate allegations that the pupil committed suicide as a result of being ridiculed by one of her teachers for soiling her school uniform.
At the material time, the team had only one report from the head teacher confirming that Jackeline Chepng’eno of Standard Six, Admission Number 006 committed suicide on Friday, 6/9/2019
On arrival, the team was received by the head teacher of the school. Normal teaching and learning was in progress under peaceful and calm environment.
The Pupils and the teachers were all in school except for Mrs. Jeniffer Chemutai, the teacher who was accused to have harassed Jackline. She kept away fearing for her life after intense demonstrations by the local community witnessed the previous day.
Here is the chronology of events leading to the Learner’s death;
On Friday 6/92019 the late Jackline reported to school as usual at about 7.45 a.m. Together with the rest of the pupils, she attended the Pastoral Programme Instruction (PPI) lesson in morning.
During the English lesson which occurred between 10.00 and 10.25 a.m the class teacher and teacher of English, Madam Jenifer Chemutai asked the pupils to write a composition using pencils.
The few pupils who did not have pencils including late Jackline were instructed to go and borrow from the lower classes. Jackline hesitated. The teacher prevailed upon her to go to the next class and borrow so that she could do the assignment with others. As she walked out, the teacher noticed that she had soiled her school uniforms. She then followed her outside the classroom.
The team confirmed that the teacher politely advised Jackline to accompany her to the office to get the sanitary towels from the deputy head teacher, Mrs. Caroline Rono after which she could go home, change her uniform and get back to school.
While the teacher headed towards the office to source for the sanitary towels, Jackline walked towards the gate and went home straight. When the teacher finished the inquiry on the whereabouts of the towels, she spotted Jackline walking towards the gate. Her attempts to call her back did not bear any fruit.
Upon reaching their home, her mother inquired why she had come home early apparently, Jackeline told her that the teacher had advised her to go and change her uniform which was stained and get back to school
The mother similarly instructed her to change and wash her uniform and return to school in the afternoon. The mother even asked her to wash one of her clothes. She complied, picked a bucket and a “leso” and went to the river. At around 2.00 p.m. word reached Jackline’s family that she had committed suicide.
According to the statements given by her classmates, the class teacher Madam Jenifer Chemutai did not scold or ridicule Jackeline for soiling her school uniform.
FAMILY FEUDS AND ALCOHOLISM
Jackline’s parents separated long time ago. Her mother and all her siblings were staying at her maternal grandmother’s place. Unfortunately for Jackline both her mother and grandmother are addicted to alcohol. It is Jackline who had the responsibility to undertake all the family chores.
Her elder sister had been hospitalized for a terminal illness for the last two months at Kapkatet General Hospital, leaving behind her two children under the care of Jackline. The sister had just been discharged from hospital at the time of investigations.
The investigation team also found out that the school had received its full consignment of sanitary towels for second term. At the time of our visit, the team could not establish the number of sanitary towels received and those dispensed to the learners due to poor record keeping.
However, it was confirmed that the school had received and distributed it’s consignment for the months of August and September 2019.
The team counted 77 packets of the remainder of the said consignment in the school store. According to the teacher in charge, Jackline and the rest of the eligible girls received their supply of the towels for the months of August and September, on 30th July, 2019.
The team further visited Jackeline’s home and confirmed that she had used one of two packets of sanitary towels given to her by the school on 30th July, 2019. This was corroborated by her mother.
The Commission has perused the preliminary report and directed its officers to cover certain areas. As an employer in the public service the Commission’s mandate is limited to professional culpability of its employees and breach of regulations governing the teaching service. In this regard, the Commission may also be guided by technical reports from other specialized Government agencies who are also seized of the matter.
Accordingly, once the final Investigation Report is out, the Commission will make its decision on the matter based on the provisions of the law and the provisions of the Code of Regulations for Teachers and take appropriate administrative action if any based on the evidence and the merits of the case.