A grieving father has petitioned the National Assembly to help him find answers to the tragic death of his daughter in one of Kenya’s top schools.
Josephat Namatsi says Tracy Sylvia, a 15-year-old Form Three student at Moi High School Kabarak in Nakuru, died on January 14, barely a week after schools opened for the first term.
A post-mortem report shows she died of malaria, but reports from the school’s clinic show she was being treated for a bacterial infection.
The father’s attempts to get answers from the school and the Ministry of Education have been futile, forcing him to petition MPs.
Among the issues he wants addressed is why the school did not allow Tracy to seek treatment at a proper hospital yet she had medical insurance.
He also wants to know why the school did not inform him when she fell seriously ill and why she was told to attend lessons even when she was too weak, falling into a coma while in class.
The school, he said, did not call him by phone when the decision was made to take her to a Nakuru hospital, where she died.
Even after she died, it is Evans Sunrise Hospital that called him, not the school.
Mr Namatsi says his daughter would be alive today if the situation had been handled differently.
“I don’t want another student or parent to go through what I have gone through. It is all about the rights of our children in school,” he said.
He was in his house in Ongata Rongai on January 14 when he received the tragic news.
A doctor at the hospital guardedly told him that Tracy had been admitted there.
Mr Namatsi said his inquiries on her condition were met with the response that it was not possible to discuss the details on phone and that it would be best if he went to the hospital.
What strikes him as odd is that he had communicated earlier that week with Tracy’s class teacher on a WhatsApp group for class parents, asking about set books they were supposed to buy.
The class teacher said he was aware the girl was unwell, but that he had travelled out of school. The teacher gave him a number to call, but there was no response.
When he got to the hospital, the doctors explained that Tracy had been taken there in a coma a few minutes to 6pm. They said efforts to resuscitate her failed. In a separate room, he said, were members of the school administration.
As the internal auditor and his family began burial preparations, he found himself unable to answer questions about her death.
Eventually, he got a report from the doctor in charge at Kabarak University Health Centre.
In it, Mr Namatsi was informed that Tracy went to the Kabarak University Medical Centre on Friday, January 13, at about 3.20pm, complaining of body aches and a high fever.
She was attended to by a nurse, diagnosed with a bacterial infection and given antibiotics. She was then observed for four hours and allowed to go back to school.
Mr Namatsi said he was told that Tracy collapsed in class at about 4pm the following day and was rushed to the health centre in a coma.
Further tests established she had malaria, but since she was in a coma, she was transferred to Evans Sunrise Hospital in Nakuru.
Tracy might have contracted malaria when she travelled to western Kenya for the Christmas holiday and therefore must have had it when she reported to school on January 4.
More painful for him, besides the fact that malaria is easily treatable, is the knowledge that Tracy had medical insurance. Had she been allowed to seek treatment early enough, she would probably still be alive.
Mr Namatsi petitioned the National Assembly to have an official inquiry into the matter through Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali.
The matter is being handled by the Committee on Education, which had been scheduled to start hearings yesterday but did not, as Mr Washiali was not in Parliament.
Mr Namatsi said his plea to the committee is to not only have some clarity and an official response but to get parents, school managers and the authorities thinking about healthcare services for students in schools, especially boarders.
“When I think of a boarding school today, I get scared. It is not just about the life that we lost. It is something we must act on as a nation and ensure our children are safe,” he said.
The principal, Elishebah Cheruiyot, did not respond to our call and email message, but the school administration is expected to give a response to the committee.