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Parents a worried lot as Rift schools move to comply with safety regulations

ELDORET: In March this year, three pupils of Labuiywo Academy Mixed and Boarding Primary School in Tinderet, Nandi County, were burnt to death in a late-night dormitory inferno.

Several other pupils sustained minor injuries in the stampede that ensued as everyone tried to seek safety. Others suffered smoke inhalation effects but they are reported to be safe.

It was a sombre mood as parents and community members streamed into the school staring at the smouldering debris, where the lives of some of their children were lost.

The incident is among other safety issues that most parents at home grapple with as they send their students to school, with the hope of seeing them again when they close.

Stephen Sorobit, a father of two from Cheptiret, said having their children in schools has put them in fear over the current happenings in major institutions.

"Each time we turn on our television sets and receive news on the state of schools involved in arson attacks, our hearts weep and we develop sleepless nights," he said.

He was speaking in reference to the attacks such as the terror raid at Garissa University College where over 100 students were killed.

"A visit to a number of schools reveals shocking conditions that our students live in. A number have not fully adhered to the standards and recommendations set by a task force formed by the ministry to warrant the safety of students," he said.

Mr Sorobit maintained that there is need for the Government to ensure security is beefed up across all schools, besides amicably solving emerging issues that affect students and the administration.

"It is disheartening to find out that a number of schools still use primitive means to coerce students to provide information in case of a strike or arson, such a move makes them receptive to the set rules," he said.

Nelson Rutto, a father of four from Eldoret, said there is need for school managements to conduct frequent drills to gauge the level of preparedness of the students and staff.

"I expect schools to conduct safety training for students so that they can be equipped and confident to face any challenge that comes their way," he said. Paul Boit Boys High School in Uasin Gishu County has made strides in ensuring that the ministry guidelines are adhered to.

The institution's Principal William Kebenei said the challenges facing a number of schools leading to student unrest and destruction of property is mainly contributed by pressure and failure by management to dialogue with the students to minimise conflict. "We value the feedback given by students and we have made it easy for them to engage the administration," he said.

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