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KAPOETA EAST - 17 May 2021

Kapoeta school burns, pupils sleep in classes

A dormitory at St. Daniel Comboni Boys' Primary School in Narus, Kapoeta East County in Eastern Equatoria burnt to the ground over the weekend forcing pupils to now sleep in classrooms, officials said. 

The school is one of many founded by the Catholic Diocese of Torit. 

Brother James Otimbi, the school's headteacher said that the fire was ignited by a candle that a pupil forgot to extinguish when he went for prayers. He said no one was hurt but that 66 mattresses, school uniforms, and other personal properties of the pupils perished in the fire.

“At around, 7 am we heard the boys calling us saying the dormitory was burning. When we went, we saw inside and there was already fire inside and about ten mattresses were already on fire. We tried to pick some mattresses from the Sisto Mazoldi dormitory, we tried our level best but we failed. There were sanitizers, I think the children had a lot of them and that increased the flames of fire,” Brother Otimbi said. 

“According to investigations carried out that very day in the evening, we collected some children and took them to the police station for investigation, the CID of Narus identified one boy who admitted that he left the candle lighting when he was hurrying to the church in the morning after all the boys had left. It was Sisto Mazoldi house that got burned with 66 mattresses,” he added. 

The headteacher called upon well-wishers to come to the rescue of the school’s pupils because they are now sleeping in classrooms. 

Chol Deng, a Primary 7 pupil who was affected by the fire said, “It has affected us because our mattresses all got burned. Then also our boxes got burned and some of the children lost their school fees. All our books got burnt, and many children are not attentive in class because they think of the dormitory and our things that got burnt.”

Ayuma Seraphine, the acting director-general of education in greater Kapoeta said they are working with the state ministry of education to talk to organizations to provide support to the school.

“We have already given this information to the minister of education in Eastern Equatoria State and we are also asking donors and the implementing partners of education like the Red Cross, UNICEF, and other charitable organizations to come and help because these children are the future of the Republic of South Sudan,” Ayuma said.

71 pupils have been affected by the fire, according to authorities. 

The state minister of education, Lopeyok Sammy Aperengole, advised the learners to remain in the school as the government lobbies for support for them.

“The ministry will knock on the doors of our partners in the education sector so that we help those students with mattresses and even renovate the dormitory. I have even communicated with the director on the ground to keep the children and not send them home,” Minister Lopeyok said.