NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 14 – A Somber mood engulfed the requiem mass for the nine students who perished following the devastating inferno that razed a dormitory at the Moi Girls School in Kibera, Nairobi county.
The ceremony comprising of the Board of Management, students and friends of the school and government officials took place at the institution.
The school’s principal Jael Mureithi termed the ceremony as a sad event and the fire that claimed their lives tragic as it robbed the young girls who perished of a beautiful future.
“Our way of life has been disrupted; the incident has left us shaken as no parent would bear to lose their child in such a painful way,” she said, “It is sad to have lost young promising lives.”
Kibera Member of Parliament Ken Okoth stated that he will work to ensure that contributions made go towards rebuilding school.
“We will work together with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the county government to see to it that the dormitory is put up, and normalcy resumes,” said the Kibera MP.
Okoth also stated that he will kick off a discussion to highlight on the need to boost safety standards and preparedness in case of fire in learning institutions.
“Going forward, the challenge and the areas that I see we need to focus on is to pay attention to the issues such as the well-being of the students particularly their mental health by offering counseling,” he added, “for safety in our schools, we have the standards; what are the specifications for dormitories, evacuation ways, corridor sizes, rules about grills and windows. This calls for us to move these standards from the papers to actual implementation in schools.”
Okoth also proposed for schools to annually file a preparations and preparedness starter plans on issues to do with safety evacuation of their wards.
When he spoke, Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang assured parents that the Ministry was taking seriously the reforms it needed to undertake to ensure a safe, conducive boarding school environment.
“At what age do we allow our children to be in boarding schools? This may affect our primary schools because we would want to be sure that when our children are in boarding schools at primary school level, they are of such an age that in case of challenges they can be able to take care of themselves,” he told mourners.
Kipsang also described the loss of life as heart breaking and a tragedy that could have been prevented.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, who was among leaders who joined the school in the mass, emphasised the need for a mentorship program to be initiated by schools’ alumni to advise those still in school.
He stated that this will provide the needed guidance and counseling to ensure students are able to deal with any challenges they may encounter.
On Tuesday, all the nine girls were positively identified following the completion of DNA examinations.
A form one student accused of having started the fire that burnt her colleagues at the school has been charged with nine counts of murder.
The girl who is aged 14 was arraigned before Justice Luka Kimaru before whom she denied the charges and was freed on a Sh200,000 cash bail.
She was represented in court by lawyer Stanley Kangahi who assured the court that she will cooperate and turn up in court whenever required, until the case is heard and determined.
The media was barred from covering the proceedings in court in the interest of the girl’s rights as a minor.
Bodies of all the girls were burnt beyond recognition and were only identified through a DNA exercise that was completed Tuesday.