Chancho Elementary School , located in Finfinne surrounding, Oromiya Region Special Zone, Sululta Woreda, Chancho town, remains closed since yesterday after nearly 200 students experienced sudden (and so far mysterious) collapse yesterday afternoon.
Pictures of young and unconscious students being carried away from the school compound yesterday afternoon found its way to the social media; one particular picture (above) of an unconscious young girl sent a shockwave through social media activists who are trying to bring the plight of unarmed Oromo students protesting the Addis Abeba Master Plan but are met with excessive police crackdown.
It was widely reported on Facebook and Twitter that the students in Chancho town were also suffering from police crackdown as was the case in several cities in the Oromiya regional state for the last two weeks.
However, in an interview with this magazine, the school’s Deputy Principal Asnakech Wodajo said that due reasons that are unknown so far students started collapsing in the compound around 2: 30 PM.“First about ten students collapsed and we took them out of their classrooms,” says Asnakech. “Then a lot more students who were outside watching started collapsing as well.”
The collapsed students were taken to St. Pawlos Hospital in the capital. According to the Deputy Principal, among those who collapsed was a teacher. The students were discharged from the hospital and returned home after receiving mainly “counseling and psychological treatments,” according to Asnakech.
As Ashenafi Degifie, a father, whose nine old daughter attends the school recounts the events of the afternoon to Addis Standard, initially a lot of people in the town had assumed there was some sort of violence that had broken out in or around the school. “So I hurriedly drove to the school. And when I arrived there, I saw lots of kids falling. So I took my daughter and eight other kids to Pawlos [hospital].”
Commander Jemal of the local police force maintains that the police were instrumental in helping the students go to the hospital. “We haven’t got the report from the hospital yet. As a result we cannot ascertain what has happened. But there was no violence of any kind,” he told Addis Standard.
The commander estimates the collapsed students to be between the ages of nine and fifteen.
The town’s administration has called a meeting of the parents this afternoon to discuss the issue, according to the Mayor Defere Sime. He says that his administration will investigate “this unprecedented occurrence.”
Chancho elementary school has more than 1000 students.