In Summary
  • It also observed only a few schools had fire-fighting equipment.

  • In most schools visited, there were no fire assembly points

  • The report pointed out that most schools did not have the necessary safety policy.

  • The report raised concerns over narrow doors that compromised the safety of students.

  • Education expert Andiwo Obondo raised concerns about the response and preparedness of learning institutions to handle disasters.

The death of eight students at Moi Girls School Nairobi on Saturday has once again put into sharp focus the safety of students in boarding schools.

The incident comes four months after a government led taskforce recommended drastic measures to ensure the safety of students in schools but whose implementation still remains unclear.

The report on unrest in learning institutions last year that was released in May pointed out that dormitories in most schools had no emergency exits or had blocked emergency.

It also observed only a few schools had fire-fighting equipment.

“Some had empty fire extinguishers cans while others were placed in inappropriate places where they were of no use during fire emergency. In most schools visited, there were no fire assembly points,” said the report that was compiled by a special investigation team which was led by former provincial administrator Claire Omollo.

Ms Omollo and her team had recommended that the ministry of Education establish a monitoring and evaluation section to enforce compliance with policies and ensure accountability by school management within six months.

SAFETY POLICY

The report pointed out that most schools did not have the necessary safety policy.

“The inadequate preparation for fire disasters had led to inability to salvage student’s school property leading to loses even in cases where such loses could have been prevented.

“The evidence of unpreparedness could have been a reason for students’ use of arson to express their grievances and to force the administration to allow them to go home. This situation was found to be risky to the lives of students in the event of fire outbreak,” noted the report.

It also raised concerns over narrow doors that compromised the safety of students.

“Most of the schools visited had overcrowded and congested dormitories with some students sleeping on triple decker beds in order to accommodate larger numbers and in some cases students were forced to share beds,” said the report.

It was also reported that some dormitories were sometimes locked from outside when students were a sleep to deter them from sneaking out of the school compounds at night.

“In other cases, the keys of the dormitories were kept by students or watchmen contrary to the safety regulations which stipulated that keys be in the custody dormitory masters or mistresses or dormitory prefects,” added the report.

According to the safety standards manual details, dormitories should have double doors, opening outwards and windows must be without grills.

WELL VENTILATED

Dormitories must also be clean and well ventilated and spaces between beds must be wide enough to allow for manoeuvre and space during emergency.

The team recommended that all boarding schools should be re-inspected to ensure basic standards for boarding are met and those that do not meet the basic standards should be registered or converted to day schools.

A student of Sigoti Complex Girls secondary school in Kisumu County scours through what remained of her property after two dormitories in the school were burnt down on September 2, 2017. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI |NATION MEDIA GROUP

A student of Sigoti Complex Girls secondary school in Kisumu County scours through what remained of her property after two dormitories in the school were burnt down on September 2, 2017. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI |NATION MEDIA GROUP

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