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Schools in Central Kenya move to conform with safety standards

By Standard Team | August 10th 2015
Pupils of Consolata Primary School in Nyeri Town hurriedly follow their teacher while crossing Hospital Road. Lack of speed bumps and 'Slow Down' signs on the busy road, which leads to Nyeri County and Referral Hospital, exposes them to grave danger of being knocked down by speeding motorists. [PHOTO: DENNIS MBAE/STANDARD]

NYERI: Boarding secondary schools in the Central and Mt Kenya region are struggling to ensure they conform to Government regulations on ensuring safety and security of their students.

Our survey showed that most schools, while claiming to be up-to-date with security features, are actually below the stipulated standards. In Tharaka Nithi, some schools have partially implemented the new policy by the Ministry of Education.

The policy requires schools to ensure they have employed school matrons to be in charge of the students in dormitories, have windows without grills and wooden doors that open to the outside to ensure easy escape for students in case of an emergency.

The Standard established that some dormitories in Chuka Girls’ and Ikuu Boys’ secondary schools had metallic doors. County Education Board Chairman Jafford Njeru warned school management boards and heads that they would be held accountable in case their schools do not implement the policy.

“Teachers who decline to implement the policy will be arrested and charged with negligence and risking students’ lives,” he said.

The chairman noted that a meeting between school managements and security personnel to discuss issues causing unrest in schools and students’ safety.

In Meru County, Katheri Boys High School, located just seven kilometres from Meru town, has put in place stringent measures to ensure the safety of students and staff. The school has a kei apple fence reinforced with barbed wire.

Principal David Muriungi and Board of Management (BoM) Member Muriithi Muthuri said the security of the boys is paramount.

“We have security lights to ensure every corner of the school is well-lit. So cases of arson are less likely to happen now. There is a guard at night and another one during the day, and all visitors have to be thoroughly checked, including with a metal detector,” said Mr Muthuri.

There is a stand-by generator, in case there is a blackout. In addition, there is a boarding master to make sure nothing out of place is happening, including at night.

The boarding master, the principal and his deputy, and some teachers, live in the school compound. The 500 students sleep in five dormitories, which are divided into cubes.

“We have recommended impromptu inspections of the cubes where students boxes are checked for any outlawed items such as phones, weapons and others. The only thing students are allowed to keep in boxes are uniform, shoes and other basic personal effects,” adds Muthuri.

Majority of boarding schools in Murang’a County have adhered to ministry guidelines. Kahatia Secondary, Murang’a High, Kiaguthu Boys and Githunguri Girls high schools are some of the institutions where the BoM has worked towards achieving the safety standards required by the Government.

Githunguri Girls’ Principal Beth Githaiga said all her dormitories do not grills on the windows. Githaiga said the schools have employed guards to strengthen their security surveillance.

“All the grills that were previously fitted have been removed, while all the doors have been securely fixed and duty roaster, including for boarding masters and matrons, drawn to ensure safety of the students,” said Ms Githaiga.

County Director of Education Lawrence Kirimi and his Teachers Service Commission counterpart Ibrahim Adan said heads of institutions are mandated to adhere to all guidelines from the Government.

Mr Adan said they routinely inspect compliance to ensure safety and security of students is not compromised. Wahundura Boys’ High School Principal Irungu Nduati said parents on many occasions are briefed on Government policies and compliance measures to ensure their children are safe.

Githunguri Township Primary School in Kiambu County that has approximately 320 pupils and boarding from Standaed Six to Eight is among the schools that have done well in ensuring safety of its pupils.

The pupils’ dormitories are separated and both buildings have huge doors to allow free flow of pupils in case of danger, while the windows have no grills and both open to the outside.

School Headteacher Elizabeth Maina showed our team two fire extinguisher cylinders on each floor of the dormitory. There are also cylinders in the dining hall, offices and kitchen.

“We hold drills from time to time to check how well prepared our teachers, pupils and other staff are, in case there is fire. We all assemble at the fire assembly point located at the centre of the school compound,” said Mrs Maina. She said they also have huge water storage tanks at the top of every building, which can be used to put out fire.


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