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Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i

Since cases of school fires began this year, the number of torched schools have clocked 73. Just last night, at least five schools were burnt. This came on the very day Education CS Fred Matiang’i told a parliamentary committee that his ministry and that of interior were doing all they can to forestall more school fires.

No deaths have been reported in the fire incidences this year but the destruction of property is now running into billions of shillings.

The blame game has done little to quell the situation and worse, it is fueling the fires.

School calendar and examinations rules adjustments announced by education CS Fred Matiang’i have largely been blamed for the crisis, but the CS has always dismissed the excuse as a mere scapegoat and he is right. Last year, schools fires happened despite the status quo in the education sector.

The most horrific case of a school fire in 2015 was reported in Limuru where three boys died when a dorm at Stephjoy Boys High School was set on fire.

When he appeared before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, CS Matiang’i said a partnership between his ministry and that of Interior has enabled exchange of intelligence that could forestall more school fires. But even before it clocked mid night, at least five more schools were on fire.

The latest incidents have led many to wonder if the fires crisis in schools has gotten out of hand.

Who is setting the schools on fire? How much intelligence have the police gathered since the first incident and how has it been of help? Although Matiang’i increased the second term to allow more time for national examination candidates to prepare, the gains he had envisaged may have been lost by now. Majority of all the schools that have had fire incidents have been closed indefinitely with just two weeks to end for the second term. The damage caused in many of them could lead to an extend closure for a substantial period of the third term.

Third term has only 11 weeks according to the new academic calendar.

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