Why do the parents of ACK Thika Memorial Church School trust the school with successive generations of their children for their Primary school education?
For the simple reason that the school is owned and managed by another credible institution, in this case, The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Diocese of Thika.
There is the unspoken belief that an institutional owner of a school always prevails, and its vision endures for the short to medium term, even when its short-term vision carrier moves on or passes on.
It is the reason that Church-owned schools have always been amazing performers and molders of characters in Kenyan history.
Bishops, Headteachers, Chairpersons of BOMs, and other support staff come and go, but the institution endures.
There has also been the reasonable expectation that the ACK Diocese of Thika would always operate predictably and be reasonably engaging with its key partners, the parents.
In private schools which are owner-operated, the death of the founder and vision-carrier usually signals the downward spiral and eventual death of the school.
All Kenyans hold an extremely high opinion of church-owned schools for their exemplary performances, great infrastructure and strong moral values.
Schools like the Loreto’s, the Precious Bloods, St. Mary’s, the Strathmore’s and also Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls, just to mention a few, have been a beacon in the darkness that is Kenya’s education system.
35 years after ACK TMCS first imploded, causing the school population to fall below a half in one fell swoop, the same set of circumstances, similar belligerence, stoic arrogance and hypergamy…yes, hypergamy… have set the stage for an epic battle between the school owners and its parents.
This has never been a good sign.
The Kikuyu have a saying that “Ī gūthua ndongoria, itikinyagira nyeki.” (when the lead bull is limping, the herd will never reach pasture).
This, therefore, begs the question, is the leadership of the ACK Diocese of Thika limping?
Why do we now see this limp manifest itself in the strained relationship between the Church, school administration and BOM on one side and the parents and pupils on the other?
Bishop Julius Wanyoike of the ACK Diocese of Thika, showed up on Tuesday afternoon after parents threatened to storm the school and physically eject Principal Maina Gichuki and his Deputy Mr. Wang’ombe.
The duo reportedly ordered the gates to be shut and asked for a contingent of police officers to be stationed at the gate.
In a panic, the Headteacher (Mr. Gichuki) quickly sanitized all social media of his presence, due to his rabid fear and trepidation of backlash and especially from the unapologetic Thika Mums group.
It would appear that this group of Thika mothers, many of whom are his parents, live rent-free in his head and he has a paranoid fear of them and the “kumuanika” that they do to him from time to time.
Behind the bluster and arrogance on school days, he really is afraid, isn’t he?
The arrival of Bishop Wanyoike at the scene later seemed to diffuse the situation and he held an impromptu meeting with the parents in the ACK Emmanuel Thika Memorial Church.
During the meeting, he listened pensively as parent after parent rose to air their grievances, majority of which are material and legitimate.
He promised to look at the issues and revert to the parents post-haste.
Why, then, would parents of children who go to school at ACK TMCS be sceptical about the Bishop’s promise to review the issues that they raised with him directly?
For one, HYPERGAMY.
This is often associated with females, and which simply means marrying or mating with someone of a superior sociological or educational background.
Women almost always aim upwards and never downwards in looking for a life partner or mate, while a man will happily take up a lady from low social strata and begin a life together.
We have all heard horror stories where a man who is hustling in life takes up a lady, who chooses to pursue education, supported by the man.
Upon the conclusion of her studies and attainment of a job, the lady decides that the man who tore himself apart to make her educational dreams a reality is no longer in her social class.
Her bosses at work and men of equal or higher educational pedigree, are now her cup of tea.
So bye-bye to the hustler and see you in the streets…
Then the assaults, murders and suicides begin, and we blame it on mental illness and depression.
Rest assured that a similar feeling resides in and permeates the ACK TMCS BoM which is led by the cantankerous Mrs. Catherine Njuru, an ally of Bishop Wanyoike.
Mrs. Njuru, a scientist by training and formerly an employee of such prestigious institutions as Coffee Research station in Ruiru, has been the Chairperson of the ACK TMCS BoM for a few years now.
She picked up the mantle of BoM Chairpersonship when the school was having the birthing pains of physical infrastructure, looking to expand it and absorb more students.
The vision of the ACK Diocese of Thika was that the school was to be built exclusively from internal resources, meaning that the existing and future parents would have to foot the construction and maintenance costs for the school from their pockets, ad infintum.
This means that even new parents who enroll into the school will pay a premium for construction already done and successive others will continue to do so, long after the completion of the current infrastructure projects.
At no point was there a scheduled fundraiser by the church or parents, as happens elsewhere.
Parents quickly acclimatized to this new reality over the years, and did their bit in paying school fees on time, and they watched proudly as the physical infrastructure expanded.
Look at it from Mrs. Njuru’s eyes as the Chairperson of the BoM, the church (ACK Diocese of Thika) now has a well-infrastructured school completely at the Parents expense. Why not charge the parents a premium for the privilege of being in this school?
You see, Mrs. Njuru no longer cares for the hustler parents who built the school from its foundation to where it is today. No!
In her mind, Mrs Njuru sees herself as BoM Chairperson of a school at the same level as Juja Preparatory and also Braeburn Thika, which of course could not be further from the truth nor would it be the vision of the ACK.
She is the physical manifestation of HYPERGAMY, similar to the lowly girl who was educated by a hustler but upon graduation, ruthlessly turned her back to him and opted to start having relations with other seemingly more educated blokes.
It is from her that the undiplomatic language of “if a parent does not have the money to pay fees, they can as well take their children elsewhere” came, regardless if the parent has multiple pupils in the school, past and present.
This is the sort of language that parents of ACK TMCS are unaccustomed to from a Church school, certainly not from a school that is associated with the ACK, where discipline and measured language are central to its ethos.
Mrs. Njuru’s weak attempts to sell the speculative fiction that the massive increase of school fees for the 2023 academic year has been a mere consolidation and redistribution of 2021/2022 fees (4 terms), have not fooled anyone, least of all her.
Her rationale being that the school simply took the fees charged for the 4 terms in 2022, added them together and then prorated that total amount to the 3 terms in 2023 academic calendar.
Forget the fact that one of those terms (in 2022) was actually part of the 2021 academic year. She tried to sell this with a straight face.
This has drawn shouts of how? Why? Are you crazy? Tangu lini? What the hell? Amidst other unmentionables, from among the parents.
Why would the BoM Chairperson want to revise the history and reality of what has transpired only in the last 3 years? The covid-19 lockdowns and attendant economic devastation?
Why would she use such a tragic global problem to revise school fees upwards at such a egregious rate?
Truly, this lady is for the streets.
The other reason there exists a rabid skepticism of the Church’s (and for that matter the Bishop’s) assertions for a speedy resolution to the issue has been an unwitting or unintended consequence by the entire body of Christ in Kenya.
The decision to openly throw its support behind one particular candidate in the recently concluded General Elections was a tricky affair.
In the process, the Church of Christ ostensibly made this last election to become a referendum on itself, where previously it had enjoyed quiet anonymity and comforting impartiality.
When the results came back, and even though the Church’s preferred candidate carried the day, the numbers were not encouraging.
Despite 100% support of the church and expenditure of billions of shillings in campaigns, the returns showed barely 30% collection at the ballot, by both the church and that particular candidate.
A staggering 70% of Kenyan adults, registered voters, either actively voted against the position of the church, or showed their mistrust to it by not voting altogether.
If you looked at the Parents of TMCS as a credible sample size, and applied the statistics from that election to it, you begin to see that a critical mass of them already question the church decision-making on one hand, and would be hard-pressed to trust the words of the topmost leader of the ACK Diocese of Thika.
At this point in time, only firm and decisive action by Bishop Julius Wanyoike would calm everyone down and restore the faith of the parents in the good-faith of the Diocese towards them.
Some people may feel the urge to counter this self-evident assertion in a strong and robust manner, almost with the same religious fervor and fundamentalism that the early administrators of the church and school did with the parents in 1987, only for the entire school to be torn down the middle.
The school was torn down the middle almost in the same manner that we read in Matthew 27:51 which says that “Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain (two) from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent…” immediately Jesus died on Golgotha.
What died when the fabric of ACK TMCS was “rent into twain” in 1987?
Most probably the age of innocence, common decency and the foundational Christian values.
It would take the concerted effort of good men and sober minds close to a decade to get the school numbers back to where they had been previously.
An exponential growth in the school population actually began after the departure of Wilson Huruko Njau from the position of Head Teacher some time in the mid-nineties. He had been the catalyst for the hubris that had led to the implosion of the school in the late 80s.
What is it about ACK Thika Memorial Church School that makes those who hold temporary stewardship of it feel that they would rather have it die, than engage in a give-and-take dialogue with their partners over it?
The Diocese of Thika has also had some missteps in the past, but which are rarely discussed openly due to the fake piety and boot-licking within the ACK.
For example, everyone knows the story of how some individuals in the top echelons of the ACK Diocese of Thika conspired and sold off the land and buildings that were the official residence of the Bishop, which is situated near the old BAT Houses on Gatanga Road.
Bishop Wanyoike has indeed had to operate as a squatter for a while, due to lack of an official residence, until he made separate arrangements.
Why do people continue to joke around with God?
Those involved in the conspiracy to sell the property and share the proceeds continue to pay high personal price for this crazy stunt. None remains unscathed to date.
How do you take a property bought through the contributions of the humblest of God’s children, consecrated for the purpose of housing the leader of the Diocese, sell it and share the loot?
We can draw a parallel between the callousness of the sale of the Bishops House on one hand and the blasé attitude to the parents and the economic situation in the country by the BoM and school administration, on the other hand.
Many of the parents in the school are members of the Anglican Communion, despite the fact that there are many Catholics, Presbyterians, Muslims and even Hindu parents and pupils.
It shows an exemplary level of confidence that these parents would entrust the most impressionable period of their children’s lives to the ACK, yet parochial reasoning and unfettered greed seem to be the guiding principles to the people charged with the day-to-day running of the institution.
Will the Bishop come to the party as promised or is he too mesmerized by the financial projections from the school that he will try to slyly manage the parents into doing what ultimately matters to the BoM?
We have a message for the Bishop from the late Myles Monroe, we hope that he is not too old to learn new lessons.
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But a fundamental question endures, why is the ACK TMCS BoM packed with members who have finished educating their children during easier economic times of the past, and who are therefore ambivalent to the plight of today’s parents?
Article 3: We continue to look for the fee structures from different ACK DoT schools as a comparative. From 2020 – 2022 would suffice, anyone with access to them, please share.