The Monitor (Kampala)

15 November 2004

Uganda: Fires Affect Students' Performance

Kampala — Ms Brenda Nabawanuka, an S 6 Student at Kawempe Muslim Secondary School says that the recent break out of fires at various schools might affect the performance of most candidate students.

Kibuli Secondary school, Kings College Budo, Nabisunsa girls' school and the just recent Kako secondary school and Nabumali secondary school in Masaka and mbale respectively are among the schools that have been put to fire by unknown people in the last three-month.

Mariam High School and Kawempe Moslem survived fires by a whisker because police saved the situation.

Fires breaking out have been reported from several schools. The most recent being that of Kako Secondary School in Masaka and Kawempe Moslem where two students were arrested in connection the incident.

Police last week arrested two students of Kawempe Muslim Secondary School with 10 liters of Petrol in which they were planning to put the school to fire.

Nabawanuka told Education Forum that if these fires continue unchecked then it would disastrously affect their performance since they will not fully concentrate on their books.

"We concentrate on our books during the night when we go for night preps, some of us would prefer to read all night but now it is no longer possible since we do not know the motive of the fires and when they will they would break out and who would start them it might be your friend next to you, so we do not know," said Nabawanuka.

The motive of the fire has not yet been established despite the investigations carried out by police.

A survey carried out by Education Forum established that most schools which have been put on fire is a result of poor administration, poor upbringing of the students and the drug use among the students in different schools.

Being so strict on students is one of the many reasons why students have brought about those unending uprisings. It is no longer the strikes of the past were students preferred to stress their points; the students look at stressing points as an ancient way of solving problems with their respective administrators.

Students who talked to Education Forum said that the increasing burning of schools is as a result of change in administration.

They insisted that when government changes in the administration of the respective head teacher's students think of a way of paying back especially if they loved the head teacher who has been transferred.

Other students insisted that it was the poor conditions in their respective schools that bring about such disasters.

They said that for example when the headmasters or even the teachers are rough on students they pave way for such fire out breaks.

"Our head teachers are rough on us, we would not love to do all these things but some students find it inevitable to do it because of the tension at a particular time, indiscipline in schools is brought about by several factors and it is mainly triggered by the way the school is run. I do not see this stopping soon, it will take government intervention to calm down the situation," said another student.

They said that the low grades in those schools are as a result of such threats and fears of fires and other tragic things.

Police spokesman Asuman Mugenyi is optimistic that the current situation in schools will soon be curbed out. Mugenyi related the situation to a few people who want to destabilise the situation of these schools.

"We are still in the early stages of our investigations but still these are the minority, time will come and we shall curb that out, it is not the first time such a thing is happening to our schools and we shall deal with it accordingly," said Mugenyi.

The parents were equally bitter with students who are involved in the burning of schools, they said that that habit growing so fast urging government to come in to save the situation before it takes another level.

Ms Phiona Kagwisagye who has children in Nabisunsa girls and a business lady in town called upon government to come in and save the situation while still in its infant stages. She said that fire out breaks is a sign of big tragedy yet to happen to our education.

"I can smell a rat, this behaviour is tragic, it is absolutely terrible and tomorrow we might here that a certain head teacher is put to fire like people in Kampala have been doing to the thieves, we can not wait to see this thing happen," said Kagwisagye She said that such things cropping up in our current education are ancient and they are out fashioned, as they are not the best ways students should use to address their grievances.

"The reason why we put our kids in such good schools is to have the better out of them, we provide them with every thing and I just can not believe it that it is these schools that are doing such things, it takes a strong heart to have some one think about putting a whole school on fire and God should help," she added.

Kyeyune said that government is answerable for all these things that happen in these schools.

She however said that such behaviour is supposed to be in village schools not in these first world schools.

"How can such behavior be in Nabisunsa, Kibuli and Buddo, these people are just playing on our minds, they are the ones setting fire and they put the blame on the students.

"I have never seen it, these schools have existed for as many years but why is all this happening now," wondered Kyeyune.

The commissioner for secondary schools in the Ministry of Education Mr Yusuf Nsubuga termed it as a disaster like any other.

Nsubuga said that this situation is not only on only schools in Uganda but also else where in the world.

"We have to sensitise the schools about the possible causes of fire in schools, this is some thing that can happen anywhere and the best solution is to first investigate and come out with the cause, after all this is done we can call police to go on and track them down," said Nsubuga.

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