Kenya: Blame Game As 7 Pupils Die, 64 Injured in Nairobi School

23 September 2019

Blame game has erupted after seven pupils were killed and 64 others injured in a building-collapse tragedy at Precious Talents Primary School in Nairobi.

The various stakeholders concerned with the education of the more than 800 pupils, including the two levels of government, on Monday pointed fingers at one another as they avoided taking responsibility.

Even before the search and rescue was over, parents, guardians and the local community demanded answers from the school owner Mr Moses Wainaina.

They accused Mr Wainaina of putting their children in rickety structures made of wood, wire mesh and iron sheets.

The parents said the school managers were "reckless" with the lives of their children.

PARENTS BLAME SCHOOL

Eveline Shigani, a parent of a Standard One pupil, said the school did a poor job in constructing the classes.

"The classes were build using iron sheets and then cement was poured on top of the sheets. That poor thinking is what led to the death of those children," she said.

The emotional Ms Shigani, who lives close to the school, added that the school administration also rushed to shut down the main exit immediately the walls collapsed further endangering the lives of the pupils.

She added that parents had to break down the main gate so as to rescue the learners.

SCHOOL BLAMES COUNTY

But as they accused him, Mr Wainaina was blaming someone else-- City Hall and the entire leadership of Nairobi City County.

According to Mr Wainaina, Governor Mike Sonko's administration recently dug a sewer line behind the classrooms, weakening the building's foundation.

"They had good intentions to help this school but an accident has happened," he said as he battled to calm irate parents.

Mr Wainaina's claims were echoed by the school headteacher, who argued that a sewer line passed under the structure, and that strengthening the one-storey building would require bringing it down entirely.

MINISTER BLAMES SCHOOL

But in his address, Education Cabinet Cabinet Secretary George Magoha partly blamed Mr Wainaina and the teachers who teach at Precious Talents.

Prof Magoha took issue with the weak storey structure the pupils had been crammed, which he insinuated should not have been erected in the first place.

"If no storey had been built on top of that structure, no children would have died," he said.

The CS also faulted the time the pupils had reported to school, 6am, which is too early for learners in pre-primary.

"We are clear on the school opening hours and if this was violated, someone should be answerable to someone," he said.

The ministry prescribes official school hours for all public and private day primary and secondary schools as 8am to 3:30pm (class hours) and 3:30pm to 4.45pm for games and clubs.

These are among the provisions in The Basic Education Regulations, 2014 that the ministry drafted for discussion and adoption to operationalise the Basic Education Act, 2013.

This means learns at Precious Talents should report to school earliest 7am in readiness for 8am starts of lessons but they were already in school when the tragedy struck at 6.50am.

LOCAL LEADERS BLAME GOVERNMENT

But the locals leaders believe almost all stakeholders have let down the children and parents of Precious Talents and the entire Ng'ando Ward.

Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie blamed the disaster on the national and county governments, saying they had left the people of Ng'ando to their devices.

The area with a slum, he said has no public social amenity, creating room for private investors to make money at all costs.

COUNTY SILENT

City Hall and Governor Mike Sonko, his Education and infrastructure ministers have remained mum on the tragedy even after being adversely mentions.

HELP LINE

The Kenya Red Cross has set up an information centre and is also providing psychosocial support services.

The numbers are +254 715 820 219 and hotline 1199.

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