Salaama School for Blind Fire Survivors Cry out for Security

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The children and teachers who survived the fire which was allegedly set by unknown assailants at the female pupils’ dormitory Salaama at Salaama School for the blind in Mukono district are dismayed following the empty promises by security and government officials at the time of the incident.

NUDIPU CEO Esther Kyozira (left) and the headteacher Ssebaddduka during the commissioning of the CCTV system at Salaama School for the Blind.

The pupils say they feel hurt following the death of 12 pupils in that fire whereas others survived by God’s Grace with scars on their bodies but the poor security situation which was reported to have been one of the reasons that gave a lee-way to the bad-hearted people who set the fire is up to now not addressed.

“Though officials from different security organisations, Ministers from different government Ministries showed too much care and concern at the time of the tragedy, promising a number of things to our school, it’s unfortunate they have now turned to be empty promises,” said one of the school administrators.

She added: “It was unacceptable, the hundreds of policemen and UPDF officers who were deployed to guard the school following the fire tragedy left after one week. I wish they had at least left behind one or two armed policemen!”

The school community addressed their discomfort to the Chief Executive Officer of the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) Esther Kyozira as she had gone to commission a set of security cameras and a solar system donated to the school.

Docus Munica Nabyangu, who is in Primary Seven said they are living in a lot of fear more so during night because the school up to now lacks a perimeter wall and security personnel.

Some of the pupils, teachers and NUDIPU leaders in a group photo.

“We are children just like other normal children who are given a lot of priority by the government and also our parents. Let’s not be abandoned in an unsecure environment which puts our lives at risk,” Nabyangu said.

Shirati Mary Kobusheshe who is one of the survivors with scars on her hands and other parts of the body said that children sometimes have sleepless nights fearing that there could be another attack on them given the fact that they have no security.

The school headteacher, Dorothy Ssebadduka said due to insufficient funds, they are still using unarmed and untrained watchman. Ssebadduka also called for the government and other well-wishers to help them with armed security guards either from police or private security companies.

NUDIPU donates sh15m CCTV Cameras

The NUDIPU together with the Christian Blind Mission (CBM) donated and installed CCTV Cameras worth sh15m to the school in order to increase the vigilance and security at the school campus with intentions to keep the blind children safe.

One of the CCTV cameras which were placed in different corners of the school.

Esther Kyozira, the NUDIPU chief executive officer said that following the assessment they made after the alleged burning of the pupil’s dormitory which left 12 children dead and others who survived with wounds, they realised that the school had a lot of laxity in terms of security.

Kyozira said that the officials from the Ministry of Education made a number of recommendations which included; increasing the security lights at the school campus, construction of a perimeter wall around the school, installation of CCTV cameras, recruitment of armed and well trained security personnel, among others but most of those, to date are not fulfilled.

“Together with our partners of CBM, we procured 16 security cameras which have been fully installed and also provided solar lights,” she said on Friday after commissioning them.

She also called upon other well-wishers to come to the rescue of this school which is helping the blind children to acquire education in order to be useful in life when they grow up as the other children who are born without any challenge.

The school lacks adequate scholastic materials and teaching staff

Sikolasitika Nandawula, a teacher who is also blind explained the tiresome working environment where they most of the time lack scholastic materials to conduct the lessons.

According to Nandawula, the scholastic materials for the visually impaired children include;

“Braille machines and their papers of which, a second hand costs over sh2m and they are not readily on market, tactile maps, slates, cube frames among others,” she said.

Nandawula also said that following the nature of children they handle which totals to 58 children; the number of seven teachers is so small for the workload.

The headteacher  Ssebadduka said they would have at least 15 teachers, allowing each class to be handled by at least two teachers.

Ssebadduka said following the fear and trauma which the children and their parents got from the fire incident, some parents did not take their children back to this school.

The main gate for Salaama School for the Blind which is ever widely open.

“Before the fire outbreak, the school had 83 children but currently we have only 58 including new ones. A number of our parents either took their children to other schools or they are keeping them at home,” she noted.

She however assured the parents that the security of the children is now stable and asked them to take back the children to school.

Though Salaama School for the Blind is under Universal Primary Education (UPE), Ssebadduka however showed dismay at the fact that the money they receive as UPE funds is so inadequate.

“We receive sh700,000 which is supposed to cater for the scholastic materials and administration of the school but she spends all of it on the scholastic materials but it is also not enough,” she said.

The pupils’ dormitory which is under construction with the funding of MTN Uganda.

Ssebadduka said that through hard means which includes soliciting for funds from different people in the country and outside, in a term she spends over sh50m.

“For feeding only, we spend sh22m in term, imagine, we charge each pupil sh350,000 but only 10 per cent of the parents are ones in position to pay that money,” she said.

Through the efforts of the Minister for Education and Sports, Janet Kataha Museveni, MTN is constructing a new dormitory block for the children worth sh300m.






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