Tears of sorrow as Form Four students die after morning exam
By Irene Githinji and Noah Cheploen
Three Form Four candidates died in separate incidents in Baringo and Nakuru after sitting their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Mathematics examination paper on Monday.
In the first incident, Ezron Kenda, 17, a student at Muchukwo Secondary School in Baringo North, died after complaining of chest and throat complications. She also had a swollen neck. He was taken ill after sitting his Maths paper.
Area Education Officer Kiprono Langat said the deceased looked all right and energetic in the morning before his situation worsened in the afternoon upon which he was taken to Baringo Referral Hospital in Kabarnet.
“We called the nurse from Barwesa dispensary to examine the boy and then arranged for him to be taken to Kabarnet hospital,” he said, adding the boy was confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital.
At Barina Secondary School in Rongai, Nakuru, Victor Koech died after complaining of chest pains, with witness accounts indicating he was taken to Mogotio Dispensary after his situation worsened. He died as health care givers struggled to save his life.
“We do not want to speculate but from what we have it seems the student was suffering from pneumonia…” said a police officer involved in the investigations.
The third student, however, is reported to have jumped off a cliff in Kabartonjo, Baringo North on an apparent suicide mission.
The sudden deaths come amidst reports of several candidates and invigilators, who were taken ill following exposure to a suspected deadly chemical used during the chemistry practical paper last Friday.
The reports have put the Ministry of Education and the Kenya National Examinations Council on the spot for what has been described as exposing examiners and candidates to xylene — a highly toxic chemical compound known to cause health complications, and even death.
But for the second day running, the Education ministry has maintained a hardline stance about the safety of students and teachers in exam administration.
Education Principal Secretary, Dr Belio Kipsang said yesterday there are stringent processes followed before chemicals can be allowed for use in schools so as not to compromise on the health of children.