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Eleven boys perished and another 20 suffered severe burns in a fire that gutted their dormitories in Uganda while they slept, police said Monday.

Henry Nsubuga, headmaster of the school in Rakai in southern Uganda, said he suspected some students who had been expelled recently were behind the “heinous act”.

The fire ripped through the St Bernard Secondary School in Rakai on Sunday night.

“The arsonists first locked the doors of the dormitories before setting them on fire even when the rescue came it was difficult to evacuate the students inside the dormitories, some would have been saved but died out of suffocation,” Nsubuga said.

“Some bodies were burnt beyond recognition and police have recommended a DNA test to establish their identities and parentage ” he added.

Area police chief Ben Nuwamanya told AFP that 11 students have been confirmed dead.

“About 20 students have been admitted with severe burns and are in critical condition but doctors say some will stabilise,” he added.

Nuwamanya said the cause of the fire had yet to be established, and that three people, including a guard at the school, had been arrested for questioning.

The Rakai district lies about 280 kilometres (170 miles) south of the capital Kampala, near the border with Tanzania.

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Education

Leezloaded views: why didn’t the vice presidential candidate mention ASUU STRIKE during debate.

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hfAktkqTURBXy9mZGU4YmZkMmZkZDZmNjQ3OTdmMzFmZGZkZThmNGI1Yy5qcGVnkpUDACPNA jNAjKVAs0DBwDDww - Leezloaded views: why didn't the vice presidential candidate mention ASUU STRIKE during debate.

Which nation is this….

Where are we going to….

Did our leaders value education…

To show how much importance the elite attach to education in Nigeria, there was a vice presidential debate last week where the words “ASUU strike” were considered not worthy of mention by the debaters or the moderator, Imoni Amarere. 

Not even in passing. I felt it.

502422d62fd424bf8e6962e817e15275.jpg703480x1 150x150 - Leezloaded views: why didn't the vice presidential candidate mention ASUU STRIKE during debate.I was stuck in hellish traffic during the debate, but made sure to monitor proceedings on my smartphone thanks to mobile TV. I was yearning for that question that bordered on the strike of university lecturers and the shutting down of classrooms of tertiary institutions across the country for well over a month now. I could well have waited forever.

Someone would later explain to me that because vice presidents are constitutionally tasked with matters that pertain to the economy by their presidents, it was okay not to bother them with the ‘small matter’ of shutdown of schools at a time when illiteracy is about the biggest challenge confronting this country at the moment.

ASUU strike: FG reveals when students will return to class

I have a different take. A vice president can be as powerful as the president makes him to be. He serves at the president’s pleasure and carries out tasks handed him by the president. He advises the president where necessary, he is dispatched by the president to oversee negotiations with trade and labour unions. And when the president travels abroad to keep a date with his doctors, the vice president steps in. A vice president is much more than a figurehead.

Vice President Osinbajo knows all about why the school gates have been slammed in the faces of students for weeks. He should have been asked how negotiations between the government and the lecturers have panned out since November 4. He wasn’t. Other candidates should have been peppered with questions bordering on how they intend to fix education and ensure strikes are no longer a recurring decimal. They weren’t.

There is a sense that the elite will remain unconcerned about university strikes because their kids aren’t enrolled in schools on our shores. There is a sense that all of us have abandoned the striking lecturers and students to their fates. We owe the schools and students tons of apologies for our silence.

In the final analysis, lecturers have shuttered school gates because they want better pay, prompt payment of earned allowances, increased funding for schools and implementation of previous agreements. Governments who do not honour pacts reached with unions and university teachers should be called out for paying lip service to education.

We owe the next generation a semblance of decent education. We can’t achieve that by keeping them at home.

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