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Take action against budding arsonists

Tuesday August 4 2015

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The deaths of two students at a Kiambu school in a hostel fire at the weekend marks yet another tragic chapter in school strikes.

Last week, the Education Ministry raised the alarm over rising cases of student unrest that have affected 26 counties and threatened to get out of hand.

The incidents reported then were of students damaging school property and walking out of the institutions.

The latest incident at Stephjoy Boys High School in Limuru was the height of impudence and brought back grave memories of past deadly attacks.

A worse case of school arson was witnessed at Kyanguli Secondary School, Machakos, in 2001 that led to the deaths of 67 students.

Tough questions arise when such tragedies occur, among them the psychological state of students who can set hostels ablaze when their colleagues are asleep.


Also, it brings into question the measures to guarantee the safety of students in schools and whether the education authorities ever inspect the institutions to ensure they are managed well.

The tragedy at Stephjoy is particularly upsetting given the fact that a sister school, Stephjoy Girls Boarding School, was shut two weeks ago after the girls burnt down five dormitories to protest at alleged oppression by the administration.

It was expected that the county education authorities should have moved in to inspect the goings-on at the group of schools and dealt with growing unrest.

The incident is symptomatic of a bigger problem facing many schools. High-handedness, poor management, and intolerance are the order of the day.

Conversely, lack of inspection and supervision means that school administrators have no checks.

Students involved in such gruesome acts deserve no leniency and must be ruthlessly punished while sloppy school managers should be weeded out.