By Our Reporter
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Ms Betty Aol, has asked the First Lady Janet Museveni, to resign as Education minister over her ministry’s failure to enforce its directives and guidelines.
The call at a House sitting on Tuesday comes in the wake of a debate regarding the fire that gutted St Bernard’s Secondary School, Manya in Rakai District, killing 11 students and leaving 40 nursing injuries.
This is the deadliest school fire in 10 years, after the Buddo Junior school fire that claimed 20 pupils.
Ms Aol said that besides the failure to enforce standards, there has never been any police report into such fires that has been made public.
“The minister, without the investigation reports of the past fires, she has no business in this house; she has to resign,” said Aol.
“How many fires have we had? Start to count form 2008,” she added.
The Leader of Opposition emphasised that it is bad for parents to send their children to school to study only to pick them packed in boxes dead, in the face of standard guidelines faulted by schools.
However, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga immediately stopped the debate, saying that the matter is still under investigation.
Following the Buddo inferno, the then Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura issued a set of guidelines for all schools as well as capacity to respond to fire emergencies.
They included a provision of fire extinguishers at all schools and fire-fighting skills for all members of the school community, including the students.
Many schools continue to operate without even a single fire extinguisher.
Legislators from the opposition said that this is a direct interdiction on the minister, especially given that supervision seems to be at its weakest.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Higher Learning, Mr. John Chrysostom Muyingo told MPs that the ministry, in a joint effort with the security forces, had mounted investigations into the Rakai fire, with at least eight suspects apprehended.
He also said that after the incident, several efforts have been put in place including support to the bereaved families.
“Government joins the rest of Ugandans to mourn this great loss; we have made some financial contribution to the bereaved families to assist with burial expenses and to each of the families of the injured students towards medical expenses,” Mr Muyingo said.
He instructed all heads of education institutions, school management committees and boards of governors to strictly observe and adhere to the security guidelines on safety and security of lives of students and pupils.
However, the minister contradicted the police statement when he said that nine students and not eleven are confirmed dead while 40 students are admitted in hospital.
Parliament also took a moment of silence to mourn the death of innocent souls.