Burnt school for blind still without security

Security operatives comb for vital exhibits in the soot-covered dormitory last year. PHOTO/file

What you need to know:

The head teacher says the incident has affected learners’ enrolment

The night of October 24, 2022 remains fresh in the memories of teachers, pupils and parents of Salama School for the Blind in Kisoga-Ntenjeru Town Council.

 On the fateful night, the girls’ dormitory was set ablaze, leaving 12 pupils dead.

 Government and other stakeholders made several pledges to rebuild the school and avert a similar tragedy.

 However, six months later, little has been done.

According to Ms Dorothy Ssebadduka, the headteacher, government and other organisations promised to construct a perimeter wall fence, provide armed personnel to guard the school, and to install CCTV cameras at the facility, which is surrounded by a forest and tea plantation.

Other pledges include reconstruction of the dormitory and registration of the school as a fully-fledged boarding primary school.

The officials, who made pledges include Ms Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State minister for Primary Education, officials from security organs, Mukono RDC Fatuma Ndisaba and disabilities’ associations.

“We badly need security and because we don’t have it, we are now living in fear. We need a perimeter wall around the school, [and] we also need armed security personnel to guard the premises, we could have done all that ourselves if we had the resources,”  Ms Ssebadduka said.

She said the pupils with visual impairment are now living at the mercy of God.

Investigations by security organs revealed that the fire was deliberately started by an unknown arsonist, whose motive is still unknown.

The burnt dormitory and pupil’s properties such as suitcases and beds are still being considered as a crime scene by security although the school authorities want it demolished as they claim it reminds them of the nasty incident.

Mr Francis Kinubi, who was the head teacher at the time of the incident, has since retired after clocking 60 years, the mandatory retirement age for civil servants.

Ms Ssebadduka revealed that the incident had affected the enrolment, adding that the institution has only 54 learners.

“We also lack a head teacher’s house and we also have a deficit in the teaching staff. We still need a lot of support because most of the parents and relatives of our pupils can’t afford to pay for the education. In most cases, it is the grandparents who pay for the education of these children,” she said.

She added that the school administration decided to commemorate October 25 every year in remembrance of the incident.

When contacted last week, Ms Kaducu said she was yet to make a follow-up of the pledges with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Ms Ketty Lamaro.

When asked whether they had provided security at the school, Ms Ndisaba   said: “There is no insecurity at that school. We are in control”.

At the weekend, Sightsavers, an NGO, donated a braille machine, reams of braille papers and Orbit readers.

Dr Athony Wani, the Sightsavers Country Director, told the staff at the school that the NGO is working on a package with Kyambogo University to train teachers with vital skills for children living with disability, noting that the disabled children can contribute to the development of the country if they are given the required skills.