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November 21, 2018

Expert comment: What Amina said about school fires

Students of Waa Boys' High School in Kwale county wait in their dining hall following a dormitory fire on the night of June 10, 2018. /CHARI SUCHE
Students of Waa Boys' High School in Kwale county wait in their dining hall following a dormitory fire on the night of June 10, 2018. /CHARI SUCHE

As you may recall, I had instructed Head Teachers and Chairs of Boards of Management to undertake Stakeholder meetings and identify areas that needed attention.

This pre-emptive action has aided in significantly reducing the number of incidents this year compared to the numbers we have for 2016 and 2017.

A preliminary report of the Ministry indicates that reasons contributing to the unrest include: Students’ reaction to last year’s cancellation of KCSE examination results.

This was particularly the case in Chalbi High school and Ortum High school. In the case of Chalbi, students attacked non-local teachers on claims that they were behind the cancellation of last year’s KCSE results at the school.

In the two schools, students wanted an undertaking from the principals that they would facilitate cheating in the 2018 KCSE.

Secondly, there is the tough examination rules meant to stamp out cheating. Over the past two years, the Ministry has mounted formidable measures meant to guarantee the integrity of national examinations. These measures have completely closed any avenues that were previously used to compromise the integrity of examinations.

Lastly, there are general cases of indiscipline.The Ministry has stepped up surveillance in our schools and taken up measures to ensure that normal teaching and learning is resumed in the affected schools.

In particular: The Ministry of Education has intensified field visits by Officials, including the Cabinet Secretary who will visit regions that have reported the highest cases of unrest. Stakeholder forums led by the Regional Coordinators of Education and County Directors of Education will be held in all the regions with a view to finding common and lasting solutions this and coming years.

Lastly, All boarding schools have been asked to double the number of teachers on duty over the next two weeks, with greater emphasis on surveillance of boarding facilities when students are attending evening preps.

All Quality Assurance Officers in all counties have been directed to file daily reports on the security situations in their regions with clear explanations on any existing gaps.

The Ministry supports the move by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to criminalize all acts of student unrest, destruction and arson.

Read: Alarm as new wave of fires hits schools

Amina is CS for Education's statement to the press

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