Mutula asks Schools to implement The “School Safety Standards Manual
by Kennedy Buhere
Immediately after the fire tragedy that claimed eight Primary School pupils of St. Theresa’s Asumbi Girls Boarding Primary School in Homa Bay County, the Minister for Education directed all school administrations to ensure safety guidelines the Government are implemented.
The guidelines, codenamed School Safety Standards Manual for schools, were issued in 2008 and aimed at ensuring that the health and safety of children in schools is established and sustained.
If the fire tragedy that killed four students, including a care taker at Le Pic School in Nairobi is anything to go by, a significant number of schools are yet to comply with the guidelines of the safety guidelines.
The Ministry prepared the manual in collaboration with Church World Service and other key stakeholders, in the wake of fatal fire outbreaks in several schools, which killed and injured a number of students.
The basic principle of the safety manual is that Schools are responsible for your child’s safety while they’re at school or on a school trip. It follows that the Government bears responsibility for any injury that children suffer while school. Private schools by law and policy, private schools bear full responsibility for any injury that children might suffer while in their custody.
The manual on safety should provide health and safety measures that schools should undertake to prevent and/or minimize injury to children while in schools.
It is not bullying by unruly students who can cause injury to children at school.
In a Preface to the School Safety manual, 2008, the then Education Permanent Secretary, Prof Karega Mutahi, observed that, part from personal threats, insecurity for children can emanate from inappropriate school facilities and infrastructure.
“…poorly constructed classrooms, dormitories, playing grounds, insufficient and broken-down toilet facilities, gender insensitive location of toilet and bathroom facilities, and inadequate and inappropriate desks and other furniture” are as much a threat to the safety of children as threats from bullies.
Dormitories, in which students spend their sleeping hours, must not at any time be locked from the outside when students are inside. Nor should their windows have metal grills.
Mr. Kilonzo noted immediately after the fire tragedy at Asumbi Girls that the guidelines make it clear that any school that ignores these aspects of learner safety may inflict considerable damage to the physical social and mental health of school-going children.
“I am also sending a strong warning to Boards and Management Committees of both the Public and Private schools that I will not hesitate to dissolve Boards and Management Committees of public schools and deregister any private school that exercises noncompliance to Government policy directives,” the Minister noted in a press statement to the press on the issue.