MPs fault Education ministry as Mukumu Girls students return to hospital

The Chairperson of National Assembly Education Committee Julius Melly

The Chairperson of National Assembly Education Committee Julius Melly (centre) with other members addressing the press at the Coast National Polytechnic hall in Mombasa on March 23, 2023.

Photo credit: Kevinb Odit | Nation Media Group

MPs have accused the State of failing to take necessary measures to protect students and teachers at the Sacred Heart Mukumu Girls High School in Kakamega County.

This comes as the government assured parents that it is sorting out the challenges besieging the school after scores of students reported feeling unwell again, forcing fresh hospitalisations.

Two students are receiving treatment at Kakamega County Referral Hospital, while 22 others are being treated at St Elizabeth Mission Hospital in Mukumu.

Another 38 students have been referred to outpatient care in the two medical facilities.

“We are sorting out the problem ... there was some kind of outbreak, which made it necessary for us to send the students home. There are now some isolated cases ... we have dealt with the water and food,” said Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu.

National Assembly Education Committee Chairman Julius Melly said the State must protect students’ lives in boarding schools.

He asked the Ministry of Education to look into the issue of sanitation, food and cleanliness in boarding schools. He lamented overcrowding in schools due to a population increase of almost 40 per cent.

“Yet the facilities are still the same. A class should have 40 students but due to the 100 per cent transition policy, they are often packed 60 to a class.”

“In boarding facilities, a dormitory of 200 houses 300. The State must provide funds to improve boarding facilities including classrooms, dining halls and toilets,” Mr Melly said.

Permanent solution

Mr Machogu pledged that the government will ensure a permanent solution to the challenges facing Mukumu Girls.
According to a report, laboratory results from 44 students admitted for treatment showed that 16 had malaria.

Six students were found to be suffering from gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach, forming an ulcer or sore) and peptic ulcer disease. Four others had acute gastroenteritis (a condition that causes diarrhoea and vomiting). A bacterial or viral stomach bug causes the condition.

Three other students had pneumonia, while two had sepsis (usually a life-threatening complication of infection).
Five students were diagnosed with urinary tract infections, one with anaemia and two with brucellosis. Two students had salmonellosis and three others had tonsillitis, syncope and leptospirosis.

Meanwhile, the National Parents Association led by its chairperson Silas Obuhatsa expressed its concerns about the illnesses affecting students in secondary schools.

“We are worried that our children have been admitted to various hospitals immediately after the school reopened. This is serious that there could be something wrong with the school environment that the learning institution’s management is not telling parents, the situation is now dire,” said Mr Obuhatsa.

He urged school managers to tell parents the truth.

“Don’t safeguard your jobs by lying. Boards of Management have a task to ensure their schools are a haven for our children. Anything going out of hand, they are to be held responsible. The education, health and safety of learners while in school is in their hands because principals work with them closely,” he added.

Mr Obuhatsa urged the State to form a task force to probe conditions in boarding schools.