Why young pupils are burning schools in Uganda

Why young pupils are burning schools in Uganda
Source of fires at schools in Uganda being investigated

Wakiso, Uganda | URN | Fire investigators have established that dormitories burnt at two separate schools last week in Wakiso district were set ablaze by primary four and primary seven pupils. It started with fire at Young Elite School in Kasokoso, Kira Municipality where a dormitory was burnt in afternoon hours.

Police investigation have established that the school was burnt by a primary seven pupil, who had been sent back to school by his parents after he informed them that he was no longer interested in studying.

Investigators have established that the boy, packed his belongings and went back home where he boldly told his parents that he was tired of being in class and school environment.

Police say the parents became furious and ordered him to immediately return to school and he hesitantly obliged. However, on his way back to school, he allegedly bought a matchbox and went with it to the dormitory.

“When he reached the dormitory, he lit his mattress and the fire spread to other mattresses of children,” Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson said quoting detectives report. “The school estimates that property of children worth over 10 million Shillings was destroyed. The pupil never wanted to be in school.”

The boy allegedly burnt Young Elite school on Friday last week.

On Saturday, MH Junior school in Nnabingo, was allegedly set ablaze by an 11-year-old. The pupils rushed and called the supervisor, Cissy Nalwanga. Investigations have since established that the boy also started the fire at the school using his own mattress.

The two pupils have since reportedly confessed to the arson acts. The pupil told the teachers that he wanted the school to get burnt so that they could be sent back home. He allegedly said he has totally lost interest in anything related to school.

Moses Ntega, a specialist in child matters and director of Joy for Children, an NGO that advocates for children’s rights, explains that there are many factors that could be making children resort to aggressive means to express their anger or challenges they are facing both at home and school.

Ntenga says many children are being abused by parents, teachers and fellow pupils but there is no one to listen to their outcries. Because some children are very tiny and cannot match their abusers, they choose means like burning schools or even sometimes terminating their own life.

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The parents, according to Ntenga, could have prevented his action by simply picking interest in why he was no longer interested in school. Without establishing the reasons why children hate a particular school, teacher or fried, Ntenga says the youngsters will continue to suffer silently.

“In most cases if they are being abused they choose to revenge especially when some of them are very tiny and feel they cannot do anything about their abusers,” Ntenga explains. “There is a lot of suppression in schools of young people. Many children are nowadays aware, empowered, very exposed via internet, TVs and have learnt a lot. But the parents and teachers do not allow children to share their voices.”

Police director for fire and rescue services, AIGP Joseph Mugisa, in a recent interview with our reporter explained that most school fires are a result of deliberate action. This involves revenge by former staff, suspended or expelled students or internal bickering.