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January 4, 2020: Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha at Olympic Primary School in Nairobi's Kibera, the largest school in the country with a population of 4,700 learners.

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Magoha orders night headcounts in boarding schools amid arson incidents

Magoha, who was inspecting the status of resumption of learning at Mukurwe Kwa Njenga Primary School in Nairobi, said boarding masters and prefects should also lock dormitories during the night hour learning period

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 — Education Cabinet Secretary on Wednesday ordered all headteachers to ensure headcounts of students in boarding schools before they sleep to arrest rising arson cases.

Cases of arson in schools have been rampant since the resumption of in-person on January 4 after the coronavirus pandemic forced a 9-month recess with the teachers’ unions led by the Kenya National Union of Teachers rooting for the abolition of boarding schools as part of measures to tame the vice.

Magoha, who was inspecting the status of resumption of learning at Mukurwe Kwa Njenga Primary School in Nairobi, said boarding masters and prefects should also lock dormitories during the night hour learning period.

“I want to charge headteachers to ensure the master in charge of boarding to account for all students thoroughly including when they are going to the lavatories,” Magoha said even as he advised male teachers to ensure a respectable distance when manning female students.

Magoha said the ministry had issued a circular on the safety of boarding schools which will guide management on measures to prevent fires even as he called for thorough accounting of students at night.

“I am also charging boarding masters that when students are studying at night, they should go back to the dormitories and lock the government property. This issue of saying the fire broke out when students were studying at night is outdated,” Magoha added.

The Education CS also ordered all county directors of education the organize a meeting with respective County Education Boards by February 25 to discuss rising cases of school fires and come up with specific recommendations.

Regarding the distribution of desks acquired by government under an economic stimulus plan, he said over 550,000 desks had been delivered adding ten counties had received all desks earmarked for distribution within the respective jurisdictions.

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“As far as payment is concerned, we are at 70 percent and payment is ongoing, we have scrutinized every document and ensured the only bonafide people who created the desks were paid and we have paid over one billion shillings,” he added.

As part of measures to control the reported cases of students killing their teachers, he said the education ministry is working with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on possible solutions — without giving details on the ongoing discussions.

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