In Summary

The issue: Students’ safety
Our view: A boarding school must possess written authorisation from relevant authorities to operate boarding facilities, proof of ownership or lease or tenancy agreement, etc.

The school season is upon us again. And parents across the country have either already taken their children to school or are still struggling to get school fees. The first school term of 2019, however, has been greeted by a Daily Monitor survey indicating that many schools across the country have ignored safety standards as directed by the Ministry of Education and Sports.

After the November 11, 2018 fire at St Bernard’s Secondary School, Mannya in Rakai District, which claimed 11 lives, the Education ministry issued a litany of safety regulations to all school authorities across the country. Among them were erecting perimeter walls, removing the burglar–proof windows, employing reasonable number of guards, installing fire extinguishers and CCTV cameras.

Yet even as schools open for the new term, many schools this newspaper visited have not ticked these boxes and no government official has raised a finger. Whereas other schools attribute lack of implementation to financial constraints, among other reasons, we must be reminded at all times that school is not a rough and tumble business. Schools have the country’s next resource with young souls eager to change the world. We must, then, do anything and everything within our means to safeguard the future generation.

In the same way, anybody venturing into the business of educating citizens or has the temerity to call themselves a school, must be able to provide at least the basic security measures. Also, those charged with inspecting schools must not sit around comatose and only appear to be jolted from their comfort zones when the next disaster strikes. We must not end at pronouncements; we should go an extra mile and implement them. We should also hold those responsible for non-implementation accountable.
For a reminder to all stakeholders, boarding schools must have the following: Must possess written authorisation from relevant authorities to operate boarding facilities; proof of ownership or lease or tenancy agreement; occupancy permit for every dormitory; copy of the Public Health Act; copy of the Occupation Safety and Health Act; matrons must have a minimum academic qualification of Primary Seven and not below 30 years of age; and matrons must be examined medically very six months.

Others are school cooks must undergo medical examination very after six months; school guards must be on surveillance of premises 24-hours and must have basic security knowledge; Separate dormitories for each sex and age group; put two emergency exits in each dormitory; erect secure fence and install fire protection systems; provide dustbins and incinerators as well as erecting appropriate kitchens with utensils drying racks.