Ensure school safety guidelines are observed

A blind woman walks with a cane in front of the burnt dormitory at Salama school for the blind in Luga, Uganda, on October 25, 2022. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Learners, parents and every other stake holder should be encouraged to blow the whistle on any school that does not follow the said guidelines. 

Following the numerous school fires that have caused loss of precious lives and properties, government last week issued stringent guidelines for school to follow.

Some of the guidelines include drawing up and implementing of safety and security policies, having controlled access to premises by putting in place a secure and non-porous perimeter fence high enough to prevent illegal entry and exit, guards at dormitories, restricted entry to key installations such as student dormitories, kitchen, water sources, and food stores.

Others are putting in place fire safety measures, such as portable extinguishers, hose reels, fire hydrants, buckets filled with dry sand and water placed in strategic areas.

Only single and double decker beds must be used, provision of at least two emergency exits for each dormitory and all doors and windows should open outwards for ease of opening from within in case of emergency.

These are only but a few of the guidelines that we hope will be followed to avoid fires.

Unfortunately, issuing guidelines is not all there is. The government now has the burden to ensure that the guidelines are actually implemented and in a meaningful way.

As is with many good campaigns, we start out well but as time causes the memory of the last tragedy (in this case the fire at the Salama School of the Blind) to fade, so does our compliance.

This means there have got to be regular checks in different schools to ensure that these guidelines are being implemented and offenders must be made to pay highly as a way of deterring others from doing the same.

It is unfortunate that even institutions such as schools have to be constantly watched to avoid a sad return to the “should have, would and could have stories.”

This begs the question, is there a long-term implementation plan for these guidelines?  Who is to say that it won’t end up like all the others that were left to the wind? In the ideal world, schools need not be policed to continually observe these guidelines but in this world, where we live and breathe, they must be watched.

It is worth noting that this policing job cannot be left to the government only, after all, it is our children’s lives at stake here. Learners, parents and every other stake holder should be encouraged to blow the whistle on any school that does not follow the said guidelines. This way, a lot of ground will be covered. If you see something wrong, speak up, you might just save a life, your child’s life. 


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