Journalists Chased Out While Covering Burnt St. Annes School
He was covering the aftermath of the school fire that razed one of the dormitories.
A Nation Media Group journalist and a photographer were barred from covering St Annes Girls Boarding School in Nairobi, which was burnt down in the early hours of Friday morning, February 26.
Hilary Kimuyu, a journalist also affiliated with Nairobi News, an entertainment news website and subsidiary of the Nation Media Group, was threatened and kicked out of covering the school by the institution's deputy principal after they managed to gain access to the accident scene.
“Who gave you the permission to come and take pictures here? If I see anything in the media about this we will sue you,” threatened the deputy principal to the journalists.
She ordered two security guards to escort Kimuyu and the photographer out of the school compound. Both of them were covering the aftermath of the school fire that razed one of the dormitories.
Worried parents rushed to the scene to inquire about the safety of their children, their pent-up anger and frustration forcing Buru Buru Deputy OCPD Stephen Okal to intervene.
Okal revealed that no student was injured in the fire, and none of them were taken to hospital.
One of the parents who had rushed to the school complained that the deputy principal was new to the environs, thus didn't know her by name.
“All we want is to see our children and make sure they are not injured, why are you locking us out yet there has been an incident?” she posed.
The fire reportedly started at 6.30 am and engulfed one of the dormitories that houses 112 students from different streams. Members of the public together with firefighters from the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) managed to successfully put out the inferno.
“St Teresa dormitory which houses 112 students from different forms was on fire. Property of unknown value was damaged. We are yet to establish the cause of the fire,” noted Makadara Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit Commander (CIPU) James Kariuki.
Journalists have recently expressed their concern over the government’s decision to bar the media from visiting schools. Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha issued the order alongside a committee of Cabinet Secretaries Joe Mucheru (ICT), Mutahi Kagwe (Health), and the Council of Governors on Sunday, January 3, a day before schools resumed session.
Regional and County Directors were asked to prohibit journalists from accessing learning institutions, arguing that the media was only tainting the image of the Ministry of Education.
“Watching the news and seeing that the media have unfettered access to schools is worrying. Regional and County Directors warn school heads that the media should not access schools unless given permission,” read the directive.
Under the new order, journalists would need to seek permission from the Ministry of Education themselves instead of school heads to access the institutions as they did before.