Shocking details of sexual harassment in schools have emerged, with male teachers on the spot for preying on their students.
Data released by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) shows that for the last three years, some 282 teachers have been sacked and degazetted for engaging in sexual relationships with their charges.
Multiple interviews with school heads, teachers and former students now reveal the deep moral rot in the schools.
It has also exposed the glaring lapses that have provided fertile ground for sexual abuse in schools.
It is emerging that students are lured into sexual activities by teachers they are close to, and those who offer small favours such as public recognitions and monetary gifts.
Students who left boarding schools last year told one of the local media on Saturday that most sexual activities take place between 9pm and 11pm after the evening studies, also known as preps.
“After the preps, few care about what happens because some students run to fetch water, others wash clothes while some engage in friendly conversations in the school compound,” said a former student.
They also explained that games time – between 4pm and 6.30pm–also provides opportunities for sexual activities in schools.
Teachers interviewed said the confusion occasioned by the games activities where students are scattered and not immediately accounted for give room for the vice.
The students said that the state of confusion provides enough time for a student to sneak to a private office or meet up with a teacher or even school worker for sexual favours.
And in some cases, teachers lure their students to departmental offices where they engage in the beastly acts.
According to the TSC data, in the last three years, Siaya and Murang’a counties had the highest number of teachers accused of defilement.
Each of the two counties recorded 16 cases. Nakuru came third with 15 defilement cases followed by Kakamega with 13, Busia and Kitui each with 12, and Homa Bay with 11 cases.
Vihiga, Narok, Meru and Bungoma counties each had 10 defilement cases, according to TSC. Other counties with a high number of defilement cases are Machakos with nine, Kirinyaga and Makueni with eight each while Kiambu, Kisii, Migori and Kisumu each recorded seven cases.
Nyandarua, Tharaka Nithi and Kilifi followed with six while Embu had five cases.
TSC data also shows that the highest number of sexual harassment cases was recorded in 2019 with 124 teachers being sacked and deregistered.
Struck off teaching roll
In 2020, a total of 101 teachers were struck off the teaching roll while 57 cases were recorded this year.
Overall, a total of 485 teachers have been deregistered by the TSC for engaging in unethical behaviour, including engaging in sex with minors since 2015.
The details emerged as TSC tightened the noose on teachers who have sex with their students.
In various gazette notices released by TSC, the employer cautions that any person who hires deregistered teachers shall be jailed.
Regulations 18 (1) (c) and (d) of the TSC code of regulations, read together with Section 45 of TSC Act, sets penalties for persons committing such teachers to service again.
“Any person who suffers or permits or employs in any school a person not being a registered teacher shall be guilty of an offence and eligible to a fine not less than Sh100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both,” reads a notice by TSC.
The commission also threatened to publish names and photographs of teachers found guilty of sexually harassing children.
TSC said in addition to gazetting the culprits, more radical decisions shall be taken to protect the children in school.
Last year, the Court of Appeal gave orders for TSC to bear the responsibility of sex pests preying on children in schools.
In a landmark decision, Appeal Court judges Roselyn Nambuye, Martha Koome and Fatuma Sichale ordered TSC to pay two minors Sh5 million as compensation.
Justice Koome, now the Chief Justice, was part of the bench that put TSC on the spot as an employer for not addressing cases of defilement that involve their staff.
“As innocent victims, the minors are entitled to compensation for having been subjected to such humiliation, shame, and pain that may have a lifelong effect on them. It is inconceivable how the minors in their tender years are made to carry that kind of burden of shame due to selfishness of a caregiver,” the judges ruled in a judgment read by Justice Koome. The decision was based on a case filed by two parents from Nakuru County where both incidences occurred.
In an earlier statement, TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia faulted school heads for covering up the vices committed by their staffs.
“We must report these cases for action to be taken,” said Macharia.
She cautioned that teachers found culpable will be disciplined.
“These are criminal acts that can be followed up and we plead with you to report these cases and avoid cover ups,” said Macharia.
Principals, who spoke to the Saturday Standard, however, cited a window opened by the TSC disciplinary process that allows culprits to bring witnesses to support their case.
They argued that this practice opened a window for cover-ups and manipulation of evidence.
The discipline guidelines rolled out on November 1, 2016 demand that during disciplinary hearings, in the event the teacher pleads not guilty, witnesses will be invited to testify.
“The teacher’s witnesses shall be cross-examined by the presenting officer and the teacher shall be accorded an opportunity to make his/her final statements,” reads the guidelines.
And where the teacher pleads guilty he/she shall be required to offer an explanation to enable the panel take appropriate action.
And in addition to this, any decision arrived at by the panel must be in line with the Code of Regulations for teachers, the guidelines say.
Under the revised discipline guidelines, TSC devolved some functions to quicken conclusion of the cases.
The TSC disciplinary guidelines on cases assigns roles to deputy county directors and sub-county directors, effectively devolving the process to expedite the same.
Previously, only county directors of education could interdict teachers. County staffs at lower levels now play key roles in determining discipline cases.
Under the arrangement, county directors only interdict secondary school principals as TSC mandates Board of Managements to interdict secondary school teachers found guilty of professional misconduct.
Deputy county directors interdict primary school head teachers and secondary schools teachers in institutions where the BoM is not functional.