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Are Fire Incidences In Kenyan Schools Orchestrated By Some Unseen Forces?

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Education CS Fred Matiang'i during an assessment of Itierio boys' dormitories that were burned down

Education CS Fred Matiang’i during an assessment of Itierio boys’ dormitories that were burned down

In a single night, Itierio boys managed to reduce to ashes seven of their dormitories and then extend the destruction to public property. Reason? They were denied a chance to watch a Euro match because it was past the time allocated for entertainment.

That would make sense, since we are an intolerant country and deal with vengeance anything that does not favour us, except there are a few questions that beg to be answered.

For one, each day has seen a match being played past 10 pm ever since the Euros started. Why didn’t they go on a rampage to watch these other games that were being played past ‘lights off’? Secondly, and interestingly, you need more than just a box of matchsticks to bring SEVEN dormitories down to the ground in a single night.

We will begrudgingly accept the fact that our children experiment with drugs and therefore would be well equipped with a box of matchsticks for their bhang escapades, but it is almost impossible to raze down seven buildings in a fit of anger if it is not pre-planned. There’s little we can do apart from waiting for the investigations to be concluded.

Thirdly, and upon which this article is based, is that over 10 Kenyan schools have experienced fire incidents in the past three months plus numerous reports of student unrest. Is it a mere coincidence or there is some dark unseen forces inciting our students to turn against their institutions? If we are to go to the second school of thought, there is one fundamental question that must be asked- what do the dark forces stand to gain by having students burn down their schools? Or what message are they trying to send to the major players in the Kenyan education sector?

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Let us look at one of the cancerous problems engulfing the Kenyan education system and us as a country are almost accepting and moving on- exam cheating. In 2015, cases of exam cheating rose by over 70% from the previous year and saw the Kenya National Exams Council (KNEC) disbanded. Over 5,000 students had their results cancelled and most of them have re-registered to take the exams this year.

Blame games sufficed and nobody seemed ready to accept responsibility for the scam. We were playing Ping-Pong with a generation’s future. But it would be stupid to claim that there are aggrieved exam cheats out there going around burning schools in a revenge mission. So let’s go deeper into the scam and look at the source of the problem, exam racketeers.

Remains of Iterio Dorms after burning by students

Remains of Iterio Dorms after burning by students

The education ministry has shown enthusiasm in curbing exam cheating and has come up with punitive measures to deal with the menace. Prayer days have been banned, no half-terms in the third term, visiting days are not allowed, and there will be no social activities for boarding schools in the third term.

While this doesn’t bother the big fish in the racket as they deal directly with the schools and teachers, it is atrocious news to the small time crooks (mostly university students) who use such forums to establish links with their targets.

The bans are bad for business. To add salt to an injury, the exam period has been shortened from six weeks to four weeks, thereby giving the little time between papers to look for leakages for the next paper and send it to the candidates.

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In an ‘eye for an eye’ move, this group of people are travelling around the country inciting students to go on a rampage at the slightest provocation by their institutions. They do this during visiting days when schools open their gates, and there is little or no regulation as to who gets in.

On the eve of Butula Boys’ visiting day for this term, a guy posted in a Whatsapp group- SONU Secretariat, that he was going to incite the students to strike the prayer day ban and wanted to know if anyone else would be going. There may be no hard evidence (for now) to prove this trail of thought, but it is a trail worth investigating.

When people call themselves names such as ‘Bishop of Violence’, you must not underrate the extent of the damage they can cause.
We can only speculate on how many schools have been checked into. For now, let’s hope that Education CS Fred Matiangi’s ban on transfers will be a deterrent on any yet to be carried out an arson attack on our schools.

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Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Do you have a story, Scandal you want me to write on? Send me tips to [in.kenyawest@protonmail.com]

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