World Bulletin / News Desk
According to the Red Cross, on Tuesday night alone six schools were burnt across the East African country, leaving thousands of students to spend the night out in the cold.
“The fire was so huge that our night wasn’t that cold, but it died down at daybreak. Most of us were just here trying to stop the fire from spreading,” Lucy from Ruiga Girls’ High School told Anadolu Agency.
“Before the fire, students were complaining about some issues but the administration was ignoring us. I think this led to the school being burnt down… and also the revised term dates, they may have played a major role,” she added.
Kenya has been rocked with numerous cases of arson in schools, with over 60 cases being recorded in the past two months alone.
On Tuesday night, St Patrick’s National School dormitory housing 90 students was set ablaze, breaking the record as the first national school to be burnt in the country. Seven students were arrested by the police.
The school is known to produce legendary long-distance runners.
A concerned parent from the Lang’ata Boys’ High school who wished not to be named told Anadolu Agency that the government should immediately close down all the schools and send students home.
“Why is the government insisting that they have everything under control?” she said “Every day we have more than five schools being burnt; why don’t they end the term and resolve the issue while students are at home?” she added.
Calls have emerged, led by Embu senator Lenny Kivuti, for the government to conduct a referendum and reintroduce corporal punishment so as to end the unrest.
While speaking to local media Wilson Sossion, chair to the Kenya National Union of Teachers, called on the government to close the schools to end the escalating cases of arson. He said that he had written to Kenya’s education minister in May, warning him that the changes he had brought were too drastic and might spell trouble in the future.
Among the changes was one to slash the half-term break to catch up on school terms after unrest last year.
“It doesn’t seem to be stopping, it is escalating; I wrote to Matiangi and forewarned him that these changes are too drastic and countermand recommendations of past committees that put in place such measures like half terms so that we could diffuse tensions in schools and stop unrests.”
Heads of secondary schools in Kenya will meet on Thursday with their employers from the Ministry of Education over the increased cases of arson in schools and how they can be put to a stop; so far numerous injuries have been reported.
Police say that more than 200 parents, teachers and students have been arrested in connections to the fires.