Not less than 26 children aged between five and six were burnt to death on Monday when their straw and wood classrooms caught fire in southern Niger.
According to Chaibou Aboubacar, the mayor of Maradi city, “Right now, we have 26 dead and 13 injured, four of them seriously.”
It was gathered that Niger, which is said to be one of the poorest countries in the world, has tried to fix shortages of school buildings by constructing thousands of straw and wood sheds to serve as classrooms, with children sometimes sitting on the ground.
Meanwhile, three days of mourning have been declared in the Maradi region from Tuesday.
“This tragic event once again puts the Nigerien people in mourning,” the government said in a statement and added that straw and wood classrooms would henceforth be banned across the country.
Issoufou Arzika, secretary general of the Niger Teachers’ Union, told AFP that Monday’s fire had “decimated” the school in Maradi.
Arzika said his union had alerted officials to the danger of the straw and wood classrooms after the Niamey fire.
“It is better to hold classes under trees than in straw huts, which have become flammable graves for pupils,” he asserted.
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