26 schools in Nyanza closed indefinitely as unrests persist

Students of Chulaimbo Boys High School in Kisumu County on July 08, 2018 after fire razed their dormitory. The school was closed indefinitely, other schools closed in the region on the same day were Usenge Boys and Nyamonye. (Denish Ochieng, Standard)
At least 4, 210 secondary school students in Nyanza are out of school following the spate of unrest reported in the area.

A report by area security agencies has painted a grim picture of the state of learning in schools, even as strikes continue to be reported, with just three months to the national examinations.

Regional Police Commander Lewnard Katana Thursday confirmed that at least 26 schools have been closed between July 1, and July 11 following the unrest. Out of these, 13 have resulted to cases of arson, with 797 students losing their property in the inferno.

Siaya County reported the highest number of schools closed at 12, while Kisumu and Homa Bay reported nine and two cases of schools closed respectively, as Migori, Kisii and Nyamira reported a case each.

Kisumu however lead with the number of schools torched at five, followed by three in Siaya, two in Homa Bay and one each in Migori, Nyamira and Kisii.

From the report, students in Kisumu are the most affected, with 2, 050 students out of school, in what Katana said was becoming a worrying trend.

Mr Katana Thursday confirmed that 47 students have since been arrested in connection with the incidents, and are at different stages of legal action.

“We are yet to take all of them to court, because some are still being interrogated, but we can confirm that we are working on the cases to have all criminal cases punished,” said Katana.

He added: “We have also asked the school administrations to work with the relevant government agencies to get us reports on the estimated cost of damage, which will also help us in prosecuting the cases.”

But even as the security boss released his report, three more schools were reported to have been torched, barely 12 hours after the security team compiled the report.

And Katana said police were able to foil a plan by students to torch a dormitory within Seme, in Kisumu County, impounding two litres of petrol.

He said police had intensified patrols in the area, and were tracing leads on people behind the incidents which have threatened to paralyze learning in the area.

“We are concerned that these incidents have become more in this region, and we are following every lead which can help us lay a hand on the perpetrators,” he said.

On Monday, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Kenya National Examination Council Chairman George Magoha visited the region, in a fact finding mission over the ongoing unrest.

Professor Magoha warned students that the commission would not postpone the exams due to the unrest, with Mohamed saying the government was keen to treating the incidents as purely criminal cases.

And Thursday, Mr Katana called on all the stakeholders in the education sector to join hands to help curb the social aspects of the incidents.

This followed reports of contagion effects, in which students were engaging in strike following such incidents in their neighbouring schools.

“All of us have the responsibilities to ensure that we curb such incidents. These students are in a critical stage of development, and if not well taken care of, they may slip into such unlawful actions,” he said.

And in a new strategy to fight the vice, Katana has since banned petrol station operators in the region from selling fuel in containers.

According to the police boss, the students would take advantage of this loophole to buy fuel and use to torch schools.

“Those supplying petrol to the students will face the wrath of the law, and I want to confirm that we have not confined our investigations to the students alone,” headed.

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student unreststudents burn dormitoriesdormitory fire