Johnson Kusiima, the Hoima District Inspector of Schools admits that private schools had not taken fire safety measures a priority as they concentrate on academics. He however, reveals that since last year, the department has been doing assessment of private schools to pave way for their licensing.
However, none of the students were injured as they were attending preps. This was the second school fire in the district following another outbreak at Hoima Town Mosque Primary school, which claimed the life of pupil early this year.
On Wednesday, Hoima Resident District Commissioner, Isaac Kawooya visited the school to assess the damage. He directed education authorities in the Municipality and the district to ensure that schools strictly adhere to fire safety guidelines spelt out by the Education Ministry.
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The guidelines among others require boarding schools to have emergency exit routes for dormitories, avoid triple deckers, burglar proofs and install fire extinguishers. Although Mandela Annex had no burglar proofs in other dormitory windows, the affected block had them, which Kawooya says could make it hard for students to escape in case they were caught inside by the fire.
He directed the school authorities to have all dormitory windows free of burglar proofs, as they reconstruct the affected block. Ministry of education issued new guidelines on fire safety in schools in 2008 following an inferno at Buddo Junior School, which claimed about 20 lives.
District education authorities were instructed to ensure strict adherence to the new measures in all boarding schools. Johnson Kusiima, the Hoima District Inspector of Schools admits that private schools had not taken fire safety measures a priority as they concentrate on academics.
He however, reveals that since last year, the department has been doing assessment of private schools to pave way for their licensing. Kusiima explains that emphasis has also been put on fire safety for those with boarding sections. The inspector of schools reveals that many of the schools have taken heed now.
Donald Bategeka, the Director Mandela Secondary School says burglar proofs will be removed during the ongoing renovation of the burnt block. Meanwhile the school has compensated 41 students whose property was burnt in the fire. The affected students received new mattresses, suit cases, two pairs of uniforms and other personal effects on Wednesday morning.