Teachers have cited political interference as being among the main factors fuelling unrest in schools in Gusii region.
Through their unions — Kenya National Union of Teachers and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers — officials in Kisii County, the teachers say competing political interests are at the centre of the wave of arson attacks.
More than 20 have so far been extensively damaged by the infernos, most of them breaking out in the dead of the night.
In this week alone two more schools have been hit by the fire related incidents.
A dorm at Nyaguta Secondary School in Nyaribari Chache was razed in mysterious night fire while five students at Nyagokiani Secondary in Nyamira County were seized as they hatched a plan to set the school’s dormitories ablaze.
On Thursday, however, the unions said schools were now becoming centres where politicians were fighting supremacy wars.
“Politicians are interested in ensuring that their supporters are in charge of these major schools either as principals or as deputies,” Kisii South Knut boss Geoffrey Mogire told the Nation.
He said the politicians have gone as far as influencing who will be on the school boards.
Mr Mogire said that a local politician had recently dispatched goons to forcibly evict the Iruma Secondary School Principal in Bonchari Sub-County.
When that attempt failed, the school’s dormitory was razed the following night.
Early in the week a blogger was detained for linking the County MP Zebedeo Opore to the inferno that gutted seven dormitories at Itierio Boys Secondary School.
Mr Opore has since denied the allegation.
Mr Mogire had earlier raised a storm when he claimed that five masked men had been seen entering the ill-fated Itierio Boys shortly before the dorms went up in smoke.
“After these individuals entered the school, the television was switched off. The dormitories were torched shortly after that. We remain convinced that the students did not carry out the destruction of school property on their own,” Mr Mogire told a local radio station during a live interview in Kisii.
His remarks were supported by Kisii branch Kuppet chairman Osoro Okondo who asked the education ministry to take steps to ensure schools are cushioned from politics.
“We cannot afford to have a situation where schools are converted into battlefields for contests between political groupings,’ he said.
He rooted for the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) systems in schools to curb the recent wave of arson attacks
Mr Mogire said reforms being initiated by Education CS Dr Fred Matiang’i should be supported to help restore sanity in the sector.
“Dr Matiang’i should stand his ground and do his work without bending to the whims of politicians keen to stamp their authority in Gusii region schools,” he said.