Teachers on the spot as probe shows fires were well planned

The role of teachers came to question after it emerged school fires were meticulously planned by students.

In some cases they even had time to evacuate their sick colleagues and those with disabilities before torching the dormitories.

A one-day stakeholders’ meeting on the school fires in Kisii County also questioned how teachers could fail to notice when the students even hold meetings and contribute money for buying petrol to execute the crimes.
In one case in Kisii, the teachers and night guards were clueless as students planning to burn their school first carried their physically challenged colleague from a targeted dormitory to safety.

Police officers who requested not to quoted because of the ongoing investigations told the gathering that some schools had several security lapses, making it difficult to trace the culprits. Some security guards, they said, were also involved in the arson schemes and protected the culprits.
A police officer who has been investigating the fires in Kisii said in one incident, a Form One student had reported to a guard about the impending fire incident in the school but the watchman ignored the student’s concern.

“Fifteen minutes later the dormitory was set ablaze. The watchman has since recorded a statement with the police,” the officer told the one-day education stakeholders meeting yesterday.

He added: “During our investigations, we were told about a 34-year-old Form Four student who mobilised other students to contribute Sh20 to go and buy petrol.”

School fires in the county have left over 3,000 students languishing at home and caused damage to property worth over Sh200m.
“The Ministry of Education and the school management should ensure there is thorough vetting of older students and repeaters who want to continue with secondary education,” the police officer said amid applause from his seniors.

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Committee resolution

The revelations were made at the Gusii Cultural Hall before Senior Kisii County security officers who were attending the one-day workshop organised by the National Disaster Management Unit.

Kisii County Commissioner Kula Hache took the opportunity to announce a security committee meeting resolution that nobody will be allowed to buy petrol using jerry cans or any other container without an ID, letter from a chief, sub-county administrator or OCS. Members recently appointed to the schools board of management, sponsors and parents gave the workshop a wide berth.

Schools’ sponsors come under attack for what has been termed as interfering with Ministry of Education polices.

Guests who spoke during the meeting said a big rift is emerging between the Government and the school sponsors. Following the incidents in the county, seven arson cases were pending in court and 22 investigations were ongoing while 85 students had been arrested.

Among those arrested are four students from Magena Boys, five from Itibo Boys, four from Sameta Boys (attempted arson), four from Nyamagwa Boys and seven from Nyamagwa Girls.

Kisii County Education Director Richard Chepkawai said 15 students had organised the burning of Tabaka Secondary, where a dormitory was burnt down on Sunday night.

“The Tabaka fire incident could have been worse because this is the first incident where a dormitory has been burnt while students were asleep,” said Chepkawai.

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school firescrimeKisii County