By Caroline Kamau
At least four schools were Tuesday night reduced to ashes in separate incidents that have thrown school administrators into panic mode countrywide.
In Murang’a County, security heads and education stakeholders were locked up in a crisis meeting over the latest turn of events that have left many education stakeholders tongue-tied.
In the latest incident, Muhoho Boys School in Kiambu joined the ballooning list of schools that have borne the brunt of students’ unrest, with students torching 6 classes last night whose value is estimated to be at least 10 million shillings.
Muhoho Boys’ School in Kiambu County, Ruthimitu Secondary School in Nairobi’s Dagoretti area and Malindi High School in Kilifi county join the ever increasing list of schools that have fallen victim to the fire menace.
According to Kiambu County Commissioner Alex Nkoyo, the losses in this school which are estimated to be worth millions of shillings will be shouldered by parents.
But with Education Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i warning that all students implicated in arson cases will face the full force of law, police in Kitale have arrested two students and one teacher in relation to the burning of secondary schools in the region.
One of the students arrested is a girl from St Theresa’s Girls Bikeke Secondary School which lost property worth 6 million shillings after a dormitory was razed down last Sunday night.
Trans Nzoia Police Commandant Lilian Okembo said the girl confessed to having been incited by the teacher who has also been apprehended to burn the school, after they launched a complaint over delayed tea.
The other student in custody is from the neighboring St. Theresa’s Bikeke Boys
Bungoma County, Governor Ken Lusaka is calling on the national government to launch a serious investigation into the incessant fire cases in secondary schools in the country.
Lusaka said it was frustrating to see schools’ property that had taken years to build being reduced to ashes in a matter of minutes.
The Bungoma County Government boss was speaking at Kapsokwony High School where he made a donation of 1.2 million shillings to the institution. The schools dormitory was set ablaze early this month
More than 50 schools have been torched in the last one month with students protesting new school guidelines, calendar and the possible forthcoming mock exams being cited as key causes of the unrest. Key stakeholders in the education sector are now calling for implementation of previous recommendations by the taskforce on school unrest.
In Nyeri County, Giakaibii Boys’ High School in Mathira Sub-County of Nyeri County is the latest in a string of fires and students unrest that has left the country on edge.
The fire is said to have broken out in the laboratory next to a dormitory and quickly spread causing untold damage and destruction.
The school’s principal Macharia Kamau said he was informed of the fire by the watchman and quickly called the fire brigade to help put out the fire.
The students lost 50 boxes and 80 mattresses as police launched investigations into the cause of the fire.
And in Murang’a, Murang’a County Commissioner Evans Achoki has attributed incidents of unrest in schools to the collective failure of stakeholders in the education sector.
Speaking after a meeting of stakeholders in Murang’a, Achoki urged school sponsors, parents and the community to take their roles seriously by providing spiritual and parental guidance to students and pupils.
Achoki who held a meeting with security and education stakeholders to help stem any unrest in schools that might arise following a wave of schools across the country, Achoki said they had agreed to upscale police patrols near schools so that the students can feel secure.
They also agreed to have a hotline, through which head teachers, teachers and the communities that neighbor schools are able to raise the police whenever their was suspected trouble in schools.
The administrator said they ensure there is peace in school and students sit for their mock exams without any further destruction or disruption.
“Through the hotline they can report to us using the line if there is any problem like maybe a threatening note or if they see any indication that there is going to be a problem in a school,” Achoki said
Achoki further added that this week on Friday they shall meet all the secondary school heads so as to agree on how to address grievances that are arising from the students.
The county commissioner said that during the holiday they will schedule a meeting with elected leaders of student representation together with the school heads to further nurture a better working relationship among, students, teachers and parents.
“Our aim is to address the students concern to avoid any further destruction of property in our schools in Murang’a County,” he said
He said it is very unfortunate for a parent to struggle to take a child to school “only to hear that the son or daughter has been arrested and charged with planning to burn or burning down a dormitory.”
He appealed to parents to caution their kids to desist and avoid being involved in criminal activities including burning school property.
Murang’a has seen girls from Kibutha Girls High school in Kangema spend Monday night in the cold after fire gutted down their dormitory.
The incident happened after two others that included St. Peters in Kandara and Kiunyu in Gatanga.
A total of 14 secondary schools in Murang’a County have experienced unrests with some of them being closed indefinitely.