Is there a niggling solution for the school fire tragedies?

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A dormitory which was gutted by fire at Chewoyet Boys school
A dormitory which was gutted by fire at Chewoyet Boys school

The rate at which schools are being caught up in the fire outbreak cases is worrying as you look at the number of schools that have been closed indefinitely over the same, added to that, the fact that dormitories are the most targeted. Is it that students do not want to be boarders? Are boarding rules tough on them? Or what might be happening in our Kenyan schools?

School fires have become frequent in Kenyan schools. It all began at Kisumu Girls High School when students went on a rampage by vandalizing the dining hall and a computer laboratory due to claims that the current leadership had restricted their interaction with other schools.

Education PS Belio Kipsang said that the school unrests were due to ‘exam phobia’.

Education CS Ambassador Amina Mohammed initially had tasked school Principals to be filing daily security briefs with County education officials as a way meant to curb rising indiscipline in schools especially fire outbreaks.

She went ahead by ordering all school principals, their deputies and boarding masters and mistresses to reside in the schools to ensure effective supervision of school programmes.

Considering the above directives from the education CS it seems nothing has been implemented and if so, the move has not been effective since the fire cases have become prevalent.

More than 40 schools have been razed down by students; few are reported cases of unknown causatives.

KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion last year blamed the radical changes wrought in the schools by the then Education CS Matiang’i to curb exam cheating and transfer of school heads as the main cause of school fires.

Most students are doing this by demanding the removal of new principals in their schools; others are just copying from other schools and a restriction from watching the ongoing World Cup games has also been cited.

According to education stakeholders, the fear of examinations and a failure to meet students’ demands are among the causes of school fires.

Kenya National Examination Council chairperson George Magoha ascribed the schools’ unrest to students’ panic occasioned by the upcoming national examination. He went ahead stating that the fires won’t stop the exams from taking place, and even if the students burn the schools, the exams will be done under the trees.

The education ministry has gone ahead and given a give stern warning that students responsible for fueling the unrest in schools will be arrested and charged. Such students will be blacklisted on police records and it will be difficult for them to acquire certificates of good conduct when required in the future. The whole burden somehow shifts to the parents who’ll cater for the costs when the property is destroyed.

Blame games at the moment aren’t necessary and all stakeholders should join hands and find a long-term solution to end the arson cases in schools.

Moreover, the education ministry should try and install CCTVs in all schools to help in surveillance as was the case of Kisii High School where eight students were recorded leaving the dormitory moments before it started burning. The students who’ll be impounded should face the full force of the law.