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WE emerged better, stronger after the two fire incidents we encountered, said Maranda Principal Boaz Owino

Posted by African Press International on July 23, 2016

By Dickens Wasonga.

It was a difficult moment for Maranda National school. Two fire incidents had been reported in the school known nationally for academic excellence.

The school had to be closed.

But looking back at the incident several years later, the school not only managed to deal with it and emerged stronger, it also remained steadfast and today better equiped and more prepared to handle such a crisis moving forward.

Today the security within the school has been boosted . A security firm now guards the institution round the clock.

CCTV cameras have also been installed and anyone entering or leaving the school compound is captured by the cameras in a move that greatly enhanced surveillance. The school has also put in place smoke detectors.

And even more importantly, students have a way of communicating with the adminstration . Such dialogue sessions are frequently conducted in an open manner that allows the students be heared and their views and opinions Incorporated in critical decision making on issues that affects them.

At Maranda it remains a tradition, discipline and integrity can not be compromised, in line with the schools moto, put on integrity.

It is routine to see students on toes .after all,this has been the reason behind the schools exceptional academic performance over the years.

When the schools dormitories were burnt , two people dressed in prefects uniforms were arrested.

The duo who were within the school compound were not students. They were later arraigned before a Bondo court and the case is still on going.

When the attack was reported, teachers countrywide were on strike.

Could it have been an act of sabotage? The first fire incident was said to have been due to electrical fault.

Maranda beat all the schools in the country in 2011 KCSE examination to emerge number one .

That time, Maranda which was established in 1919 by the late Shadrack Osewe was only a provincial school but it was already putting to shame most national schools through its shining academic prowess ..

Although the unfortunate fire incident remain a blot in its history which briefly distracted it , the school which has over 2000 students has since moved on .

“That unfortunate incident is now behind us .We dedicate our energy and enthusiasm in rebuilding our infrastructure and today what we have archived in regards to infrastructure development speak for itself” said the principal Boaz Owino.

Not only did the school, through the parents and well-wishers reconstruct the dormitory that were razed down in the two fire incidents, but it also put up a new one, a two storey building with a capacity to hold 600 students to handle the ever growing students population at Maranda.

This new addition has been named Owino complex, in honour of the schools principal Mr Boaz Owino.

Alot of infrastructure development has since been undertaken which includes the new housing project for the teachers, a new tuition block which is near completion and will have 15 modern classrooms.

The school used to experience persistent power outages, now that is a thing of the past.

A high capacity generator to ensure there is no blackouts and a twenty four hour dedicated water supply system have also been added as measure to give students maximum focus on class work without any distraction and wastage of time looking for water from the ponds as it were a few years ago.

But the ever growing number of students who want to be part of the excellent performance posted by the school has resulted in increased pressure on the existing physical facilities. Even another school bus had to be bought and a van to be used as an ambulance as the number continue to surge . maranda has 2300 students and enrolls over 400 candidates for KCSE each year.

The BOM has been forced to be constructing new structures each year to accommodate the joining form ones. The school has a dinning Hall meant for only 300 students, now there are plans to construct a more spacious one. At the moment Maranda has 11 streams for the form ones alone.
At the beginning of each year,the biggest headache for the principal is admission.

” everyone wants to get admission for their sons here. We are forced to build more classes and dorms to accomodate these huge numbers. It is our biggest challenge ” he said.

The school principal believe that above anything else, students must remain ,a disciplined lot all the time.

” our students are very disciplined. Even when going about their routine, they know that self discipline is critical. Of course we also work as a team. Unity of purpose is what keeps us. Everyone, from parents to teachers and to our parents, we all have one ambition, and that is to mold young people who will be responsible citizens” he said.

But as Maranda forgets the fire incident, the country continues to witness a more worrying trend. Parents, teachers and everyone else is worried about the increasing fire incidents in our schools . It now appears that each day, a school must burn. This is surely a disturbing trend.

According to education minister Fred Matiangi, since 2007, 317 incidents have been reported . Only twenty percent have been procedures successfully according to the minister.

By last week , 68 schools had been razed down in dormitory arsons which saw 6000 students sent home thus missing their studies even as KCSE examination fast approaches .

The loss of property during these unfortunate attacks has been estimated a sh 300 which parents of these students will have to settle to rebuild what their children destroyed.

The fires have been reported in atleast 15 counties with kisii taking the highest number. Affected counties includes Kericho, Meru,Kisii,Machakos,Kitui,Uasin Gishu, Embu, Taraka Nithi, Migori, Nyamira, Homa Bay ,Muranga,Bungoma and Kiambu.

St Angelic girls in meru County, Tulwet Sec in Bureti, Atela Sec in Homa bay, and Embu boys in Embu are the latest to join the growing list of schools that has been torched .

What are the stakeholders in the education sector doing to stop this problem? Some have suggested that security teams from the police be deployed in schools to help detect security threats and stop the unrest by students before they occur.

The interior minister Joseph Nkaiserry while speaking at the graduation ceremony held at Mount Kenya university said that his ministry was considering having senior security police officers deployed in the schools.

On his part, the education minister has been talking about implementing araft of measures. However he has also been absolving himself from blame over school fires.

He says the arson incidents in the schools u could be due to bad leadership, composition of schools and localized management of some learning institutions.

As quoted in a section of the Media recently, the minister also appears to downplay the incidents. He was once quoted as saying that as compared to last year’s, around this time, 98 schools had been set ablaze.

” if you look at the scale this year it is actually much lower than before.Since July 2007 ,during the Kyanguly and st Kizito and all that”. He said.

Amongst other suggestions, the minister has proposed that the 105 principals of national schools should mentor their colleagues as a way to prevent students unrest.

He said the national schools have a bigger role to play in calming down the worrying trend schools turbulence.

“If the more than 100 principals of national schools could mentor 500 schools within a year and extends the mentoring to the next crop of the schools, these cases would substantially reduce” said matiangi.

Matiangi made this appeal recently during a luncheon he organized for school principals in Nairobi which was also attended by secondary and tertiary education director Robert Masese,higher education PS Collette Suda ,the CEO of the Kenya institute of curriculum development Dr Julius Jwan and others.

He said mentoring would help to enhance good practices in management and avert some of the challenges these schools face that leads to unrest.

Matiangi disclosed that based on the reports of the two tasks forces ,one led by Naomi Wangai,and the other by David Koech, many changes have been effected adding the ministry was at the tail end of implementing the recommendation of the two task forces.

” This involves looking at the governance of the institution and building the capacity of head teachers and enhancing supervision through quality assurance officers and better collaboration with the ministry of interior ” he said.

He said the ban on mocks , among others were informed by the findings of the task forces and he was not creating new rules but merely implementing the recommendation.

Given the dire situation the fire incidents have resulted in,Parliament was last week forced to to adjourn its proceedings to discuss the issue which is has left the country worried.

The motion was moved by the Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa. During the emotive debate most MPs felt parents have abdicated their role of instilling discipline to schools and teachers, while pampering them at home.


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