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How schools are posing risks to learners’ lives

Learners walk home after schools were closed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. The government is finding itaself within a hard place and a rock on making a decision whether to reopen schools soon or not.
Learners walk home after schools were closed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Report shows most schools ill prepared for disasters.

A performance audit report on fire preparedness in secondary schools shows that most institutions were not constructed according to prescribed safety standards. The report that was prepared by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu was presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday raises eyebrows as most schools are congested.

“School buildings did not adhere to these safety standards because most of the institutions did not have safety subcommittees to ensure compliance with safety measures,” the report reads in part.

The report shows that 30 schools, out of the 40 that were sampled, recorded more students above the stated numbers in their registration certificates.

Regulations on dormitories were mostly violated, the report shows.

“Most of the dormitories were congested which was attributed to the government introducing 100 per cent transition of students from the year 2017. Schools are, therefore, congested and this increases the risk of loss of lives in the event of a fire,” adds the report.

The congestion in the boarding secondary schools has been attributed to the directive by the government in 2017 that introduced 100 per cent transition policy; without proper funding of the schools.

“The increased transition rate was not planned for in advance by the government in terms of infrastructure. The Ministry of Education had instructed secondary schools not to collect funds from parents to assist in construction of new infrastructure. Schools, therefore, had no option but to use the available infrastructure leading to congestion and a high risk of loss of life in the event of a fire.” The Gathungu report explains.

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The report further shows that the doorways should be easily accessible for emergency purposes, 22 out of the 42 sampled schools had their doors opening inwards in the classrooms. This contravenes the safety manual for schools because exit of students during emergencies will be hampered. The situation is even worse in other schools; whose dormitories have windows that have been reinforced with metal grills.

These revelations come in the wake of a myriad of past school fires and unrest in which some learners sadly lost lives.

The reports will be discussed by Legislators who will chat the way foeward.

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