School shut after fourth dorm is razed in less than two months

WESTERN |

Detectives investigating the course of fire at Sigalame Boys High School in Funyula, Busia County. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

At least 1,780 students of Sigalame Boys' High School have been sent home indefinitely following the burning of a fourth dormitory in less than two months.

The extra-county school in Funyula constituency, Busia County, was closed on Tuesday.

"We decided to send the learners home until the principal and his deputy assure us of their safety. It can't be that every time dormitories will be burning and no action is taken. What if the dorm burnt in the middle of the night?" posed the school's Parents Teachers Association (PTA) chair Ndombi Mungolo in reference to the Monday fire incident.

The Monday 8 pm inferno that razed Ndenda dormitory came after Lenana dorm was torched on August 25 and Haile Salasie on August 10.

Sigalame Boys High School students salvage their belongings after their dormitory was set ablaze. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kilimo dormitory was the first to be razed on July 26 in a pattern the parents' association now fears could bring down the performance of the school that got a mean score of a C+ (plus) of 6.7 in last year's KCSE.

"Our feelings are especially with the candidates. Their peers elsewhere are getting an education as they are ever on the road travelling home and back to school because of the fires," said Mungolo.

Property worth millions of shillings, including books, mattresses, and personal belongings, have been lost in the fires.

"We have lost property worth over Sh3.5 million in the Monday fire and our students and teachers are now disturbed with the trend. We don't know who is doing this," said Lazarus Fundia, a senior teacher.

The school's Principal Peter Auma left the school immediately after the Monday fire on "medical grounds", according to another teacher at the school.

Auma has previously publicly accused a section of parents and the neighbouring community of being behind the fires.

Stephen Baringo, the Western regional education director, said the school has had several cases of arson and the matter is being handled by the DCI.

He treated the allegations by the school's head teacher that some parents and neighbours of the school were influencing the fires as "mere allegations and speculation"

An independent body appointed to do investigations says it will table its report to the PTA and board of management of the school soon.

"The preliminary findings are however that suppliers in the school are fighting over tenders. The fires are to trigger transfers," said Dr Osborne Mabalu, a lecturer at Maseno University probing the issue.

Parents interviewed demanded speedy investigations into the fire incidents at the school.

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