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Speculation as candidate dies days after Chemistry practical

Thursday November 14 2019

David Ng'eno, father of dead candidate Victor Kiptoo

Mr David Ng'eno mourns his 18-year-old son, Victor Kiptoo, a KCSE candidate who died three days after doing the Chemistry practical at Barina Mixed Day Secondary School, at their home in Rongai, Nakuru County, November 13, 2019. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOSEPH OPENDA
By JOSEPH OPENDA
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Speculation has followed the death of a KCSE candidate in Nakuru County, days after the Chemistry practical at Barina Mixed Day Secondary School.

Victor Kiptoo, an 18-year-old from Majani Mingi village in Rongai, died while on the way to hospital.

The cause of death has not been established but the family says it may have to do with the chemicals used in the practicals.

CHEST PAINS

Mr Kiptoo's father, Mr David Ng'eno, told the Nation that his son complained of chest pains and difficulties in breathing when he returned home on Friday evening.

Mr Ng'eno said he took pain killers but did not improve.

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“When he left for school that morning, he was in good health and ready for the exams but when he returned home, he looked unwell,” he said.

The condition of the second-born son in a family of six deteriorated with time.

“When he woke up on Monday, his condition had worsened. I accompanied him to school to monitor his progress," he said.

"I informed the headteacher, who asked me to wait as he sat the day’s paper."

Mrs Nelly Ng'eno mourns the death of her son,
Mrs Nelly Ng'eno mourns the death of her son, KCSE candidate Victor Kiptoo, at their home at Majani Mingi in Rongai, Nakuru County, on November 13, 2019. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

CONDITION WORSENS

Mr Ng'eno said he later took his son to a nearby dispensary for blood pressure and sugar level tests but these did not reveal what he was suffering from.

The facility referred him to Mogotio sub-county hospital after they suspected he had tuberculosis.

Mr Ng'eno got more worried that evening as his son started sweating profusely, coughed and struggled to breathe. He rushed him back to the hospital but it was too late; Mr Kiptoo was pronounced dead on arrival.

The father asked for the government's help in providing a pathologist to establish the cause of his son's death.

The teenage was disciplined, hardworking and wanted to become a doctor, he said.

“I had much faith in him," he said.

SPECULATION

The Nation established that the candidate was diagnosed with pneumonia in September and was still under medication.

His uncle, Mr Ibrahim Silatei, confirmed this but said the family suspected that his death was triggered by the chemicals in the lab.

“Even though he appeared healthy, he was still under medication. It is possible that the chemicals he was exposed to at school triggered the condition,” he said.

Another student from the school, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed several students had complained of headaches.

“I also felt the same way but recovered after some time. Victor looked weak and also complained of headaches,” he said.

Barina Mixed Day Secondary School at Majani
Barina Mixed Day Secondary School at Majani Mingi in Rongai, Nakuru County, where the late Victor Kiptoo had been writing his KCSE examinations, as pictured on November 13, 2019. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

OTHER INCIDENTS

Scores of Form Four candidates and invigilators have been taken ill following exposure to a suspected deadly chemical used during the chemistry practicals last Friday.

The Ministry of Education and the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) are on the spot for exposing the candidates and invigilators to xylene — a highly toxic chemical compound known to cause health complications, and even death.

In Trans Nzoia, an expectant teacher was admitted to Galilee Hospital after developing complications linked to the chemical.

Ms Cherusha Nyakeri, a teacher at St Monica Girls in Kitale, was rushed to hospital after being exposed to fumes that emanated from heating xylene at Gidea Girls School in Kwanza.

A student from St Peters Kajulu Secondary was admitted to Kombewa sub-county hospital on Friday after the chemical exploded, causing her to sustain serious burns.

The Nation learnt that Knec directed headteachers to buy and use the deadly chemical as an alternative for cyclohexane, which was unavailable in the market.

Following the reports, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Teachers (Kuppet) has threatened to sue the ministry and Knec for approving a dangerous chemical.