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Most institutions in Rift Valley yet to fully comply with safety rules

Mr Luka Shiroya, teacher, showing a dormitory window without grills at Malava Secondary School. The institution has met most of the required security standards. PHOTO: CHRISPEN SECHERE/STANDARD

ELDORET: The safety of students in boarding schools is at stake as most institutions have not fully complied with the safety standards set by the Ministry of Education.

The safety standards manual for schools in Kenya signed in 2008 by the then Minister of Education Sam Ongeri highlight safety measures that must be adhered to by schools.

A spot check by The Standard in several boarding schools revealed that most of the schools have complied with the majority of the standards but failed in one or another. Malava Boys High School has complied with most safety measures but failed to include an emergency door on its dormitories.

In the safety manual, the requirements include adequate doorways for emergency purposes, which should open outwards and not be locked from the outside when learners are inside.

Each door should be five feet wide at each end of the dormitory, with an emergency exit at the middle clearly labelled 'emergency door'. The school's principal Daniel Mwachi said the school has honoured all measures which include grill-less windows that are easy to open. "Each block should be fitted with serviced fire extinguishers at the exit. The space between beds should be at least 1.2 metres," said Mr Mwachi.

He said other measures the school has put in place include good security arrangements, with provision for both night and day security personnel and properly fitted and lockable gates and a security office. Mwachi said apart from adhering to the security measures, the school has also developed communication channels to enable students air their views. "We usually have unrest in schools when all communication avenues have been blocked. We have opened several communication channels for our students to have their views addressed by the administration," he said.

Another school, Bishop Sulumeti Girls High in Kakamega, has all dormitories fitted with three doorways that open outwards.

The dormitories also have wide spacing between the beds to avoid commotion in case of an emergency.

School principal sister Jane Amukoye said they also have enough security personnel comprising G4S officers and watchmen serving on day and night shifts. At Tande Secondary, the dormitory has the required spacing, wide doorways, a fence and a security office.

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