A Standard Three pupil at Mukandamia Primary School in Solio, Laikipia County, has died after she was allegedly beaten by her teacher and classmates because she could not read.
Parents yesterday withdrew their children from school following the death of the 10-year-old in hospital on Sunday.
The deputy headmaster is reported to have ordered Joy Wangari’s desk-mates to beat her up on Thursday last week because she was unable to read in class.
“The teacher ordered her desk-mates to teach her how to read and beat her if she could not,” said Mary Wanjiku, a parent at the school. “He started hitting the girl on the back.”
Parents who heard of the incident from their children claimed that the teacher injured the girl before ordering the beating, in what appears to be a cover-up bid.
Wangari is said to have reported to the headteacher that she was unwell and requested to go home, where she lived with her 86-year-old grandmother.
“I visited the girl at home and she looked very weak and complained of abdominal and back pains,” said Ms Ann Wairimu, a neighbour. “She said she was beaten by her teacher and classmates.”
On Sunday the girl’s condition worsened and she was taken to hospital in Naromoru town by Ms Wairimu, who said she was vomiting blood. She died while undergoing treatment.
The matter was reported at Naromoru Police Station but no arrest had been made by press time.
Kieni East OCPD Michael Mbaluku confirmed that an assault report was made but noted that the child’s death was yet to be reported.
“The death has not been reported yet but we understand the child died in hospital and the doctors cannot ascertain the cause from physical examination,” said Mr Mbaluku. “Once the postmortem examination is done, we’ll know the cause of death.”
He said the pupils who were in the classroom had been questioned while the search for the teacher, who has since gone into hiding, was under way.
The local Sub-County Director of Education, Mr Kamemba Kamande, said investigations were under way.
“We have not taken any disciplinary action against anyone but, should we find any of the teachers culpable, then we will take action,” said Mr Kamande.
Parents also protested that this was not the first time a child reported having been beaten severely by the teacher.
“I transferred my child from the school after he was beaten badly by the teacher and there are many others who have the same complaint,” said Mr Simon Mureithi. “We demand that all the teachers be replaced by more humane ones.”