Kenya: Student Unrest Sweeps Across Schools

26 January 2021

A new wave of student protests has erupted in secondary schools across the country.

Property worth thousands of shillings was destroyed on Tuesday by fires that razed dormitories in three schools in Kisumu, Bungoma and Embu counties.

A dormitory at Kisumu School was destroyed in a fire, which police suspect to be arson.

The fire, which started at around 10.30am, destroyed personal items of 60 students.

Firefighters battled the inferno for about two hours before they brought it under control.

Kisumu Central Sub-County Commander Peter Kattam told journalists that the fire started when the students were on tea break.

He said nothing was salvaged from the building and no injuries were reported in the incident.

"We are treating this incident as arson and we will use investigative agencies to get to the root cause and those involved will be brought to book. At this point, we cannot say that the children or those from outside were involved until we finalise investigations," said Mr Kattam.

However, a teacher from the school, while briefing the officers, revealed that two students had seen five of their colleagues come out of the window shortly before the building was engulfed in flames.

Embu schools

In Embu, students at King David Kamama Boys' Secondary School rioted and torched two dormitories.

The students became rowdy at around 12.30am and chased away night guards before they burnt down the buildings.

As the buildings went up in flames, the students walked out of the school compound and spent the night in the cold.

First responders could not salvage anything.

Embu North deputy county commissioner Frederick Kimani said it could not be immediately established what made the students burn the buildings.

He warned that students found to have incited their colleagues to commit the crime will not be spared.

"We have commenced investigations and suspects will face the full force of the law," he said.

The administrator stressed that hooliganism will not be tolerated in learning institutions.

The incident brings to three the number of schools which have been set on fire in the past three days.

Other schools which have been affected are Kirimari and Kiambere.

However, no suspects have so far been arrested in connection with the arson attacks which have left the local education department in shock.

Bungoma schools

Meanwhile, a dormitory at Bukembe Boys' High School in Bungoma County was on Monday burnt down.

The incident was the second attempt after a first one to burn a food store at the school was thwarted on Sunday evening.

The Kilimanjaro dormitory, which hosts 112 students, was set ablaze at 8.30pm when students were attending their evening preps.

No student was hurt in the fire that burnt all of the students' belongings, including books, bedding, clothes and other personal items.

The school's Principal, Mr David Amolo, said investigations into the incident were under way and firm measures will be taken against the culprits.

"We are having a board meeting that will inform the next course of action, but I don't think we will be closing the school," he said.

Reports by Rushdie Oudia, Brian Ojamaa and George Munene

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