Kenyan School Burning: Inquiry Panel Releases Report

Mark Babatunde July 21, 2016
One of the school dormitories torched by students in Kenya. Kenyan Post

A panel created by the Kenyan Ministry of Education to look in to the increase in the burning of school buildings by secondary students across the nation has released its findings.

The findings, which were released on 19 July, are part of a preliminary audit report submitted by the panel.

The report indicates that the cases of arson by unruly students are the result of new stringent disciplinary rules instituted by school authorities, ineffective communication between students and school administrators, a lack of seriousness among students, drug abuse, and peer pressure.

Education Minister Fred Matiang’i released the report during a closed door meeting of Education Ministry officials on Tuesday, while 10 students of the Mokowe Mixed Secondary School in Lamu County were arrested by the police on allegations of planning to set the school buildings on fire.

Investigators say the students, many of whom are in their third and fourth year, were found in possession of several gallons of petrol and matchboxes.

Speaking on the incident, Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said two additional students were on the run from the police.

Officials of the Mokowe Secondary School have in turn credited the cordial relations between the staff and students for helping to quash the plan before it could go any further.

In the days before the report was released, Matiang’i had imposed strict regulations on the transfer of students from schools involved in incidences of arson to other institutions of learning, insisting that students can only transfer after getting an approval letter from the sub-county Directors of Education.

Reports in Kenya say that at least 70 cases of students torching their school buildings have been reported this year.

In June, students of the Iteiro Boys High School in Kisii, a town in the west of Kenya, made headlines when they were reported to have burned down seven dormitories, including their own property, because they were denied the opportunity to stay up past their bed time to watch a soccer match between Croatia and Portugal at the European football tournament.

Similar incidences are reported to have occurred in Mpeketoni and Lamu Boys Secondary School, where a store and a computer laboratory were torched by students who were also not allowed to watch a match between Croatia and Spain.

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