Gaborone Secondary School (GSS) students allegedly became victims of their school’s delicious Wednesday lunch when an unexplained diarrhea wave hit a number of the students.
According to some of the students interviewed at the Extension 2 Clinic Wednesday afternoon, after more complaints were reported, the school management divided them into groups of tens and were taken to different Gaborone clinics. They said that they started experiencing discomfort in their stomachs in the afternoon after taking the day school lunch of rice, soup, beetroots salad and fried chicken. “I started having a running stomach immediately when I got home from school and it couldn’t have been anything I took at home because I had actually not eaten anything since I knocked off from school,” one student told this publication at Extension 2 clinic where she and a throng of others were awaiting treatment.
According to the students things got worse on Thursday morning when they got to school, as more and more cases were reported. Despite this, the students say their teachers dismissed their cries for help, refusing to take them to seek medical attention. “One teacher even told us that it was nothing, that it is normal for one to experience a running stomach after eating beetroots, because it has detoxing elements,” one student said on a condition of anonymity.
According to the students, the school management only relented after more numbers of complaints were reported. “That is when they brought us here (Extension 2), others were taken to Bontleng, Phase 2, G-West and Old Naledi clinics” one student said.
The sad part of their ordeal, they say was the fact that their teachers only dropped them at the said clinics and went back, leaving them to battle with long queues amid frequent trips to the ablutions.
Meanwhile when contacted for comment the Ministry of Education and Skills Development Public Relation Officer, Sehularo said he was not aware of the issue, saying it has not yet been reported to his office. “What usually happens is that regional offices will try and contain the matter first before submitting a report to the Ministry,” said Sehularo.
However Gaborone regional Acting Director of the South East region Benson Rauwe also indicated that he had no knowledge of the issue upon being contacted by this publication Friday afternoon. He indicated that the matter had not yet been reported to his office though by virtue of its seriousness could have long reached his office.
However he later called this publication saying he had contacted the school head whom he said also denied that there was ever an adverse outbreak of diarrhea at the school. “According to the school head less than 10 students had complaints and were taken to nearby clinics, and to me this is nothing surprising in a school of more than 1000 students to fall ill” Rauwe said.
According to Rauwe the GSS school head told him that all students were attended to and all had lunch at the school thereafter attending studies without further complaints. “Though others may have been seriously ill, I suspect others were just saying, you know kids they can do all sort of things to evade that chemistry lesson that they do not like. I mean the teacher tells me that the group that was taken to Bontleng upon arrival told their teachers to take them back, that they were now fine, and did not want to miss school lunch,” said Rauwe.
Rauwe said even if there were cases of diarrhea it would not by any means be due to school food poisoning as students are always served with fresh food and have never complained before. “Besides for one to say that there has to be laboratory test and results proving that indeed such poisoning is the cause” he said.
By Friday all students attended school lessons without disruption and no other cases was recorded according to Rauwe.