Families of students at Sacred Heart Mukumu Girls High School who died after eating contaminated food will each receive Sh400,000 from the government as compensation, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has announced.
The CS said 44 students are yet to report back to the school while 56 have applied for transfer to other schools. He was speaking yesterday while appearing before the Senate to answer questions regarding the tragedy. Mr Machogu explained that the families of the deceased are entitled to a Group Life Insurance compensation from the EduAfya cover.
He said the ministry, through the regional and county offices and the school’s management, has provided guidance and support to the bereaved families in pursuing the claims for payment.
“The requisite forms have been completed and forwarded for processing. We will pursue the expeditious processing of the payments,” said Mr Machogu.
He added that the ministry also settled medical bills for students who were hospitalised and continues to provide psychosocial support to the families.
Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale had sought to know the remedial actions taken by the ministry to allow the resumption of learning, the support given to families of the deceased and any plans for compensation of affected families.
Mr Machogu said reports received from a multi-agency team established to probe the incident that killed four students and a teacher and left 109 learners hospitalised have failed to lay any criminal culpability on anyone.
“The reports I have so far gotten from the multi-agency team do not indicate that any individual was criminally responsible to warrant being taken to court,” he said. He added that the team comprising officials from the Education, Health and Interior ministries and the Kakamega County Government recommended the reopening of the school.
This, he said, was done in phases between May 8 and 12 with Form Fours first to report back and the last lot being Form Ones.
“As at May 30, 2023, a total of 1,962 students had reported back to the school, 44 are yet to report while 56 have applied to transfer to other schools,” he said.
The CS said his ministry had put in place a raft of measures, on recommendation from the multi-agency team, to ensure the resumption of learning and avert a similar tragedy in future.
Regarding water supply, he said all tanks at the school have been flushed and cleaned and fitted with new taps. The water is also routinely tested by the Lake Victoria North Water Development Authority and the Kenya Medical Research Institute. The ministry has also put up a Sh6 million water purifier at the school.
“The ministry has sunk a new borehole and installed a pump,” said the CS, adding that the kitchen, bakery and dining hall have been refurbished and the ministry has provided Sh10 million for the renovation of dormitories.
“Food handlers are medically checked after every four months and they have also been tested and vaccinated against typhoid,” he said. Further, two clinical officers and a nurse have been employed to manage the school’s sanatorium, which is now fully equipped with basic drugs and equipment.