“How do you expect me to feel in this condition?” said Isatu Sow, mother of one of the victims, who was among the first to arrive at the Bassa Town Community mosque ahead of Friday prayers.
Only eight of the 36 people inside the building survived when the fire broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning as the victims, who were all of Guinean origin, slept in the school dormitory.
School officials said 27 boys, aged between 10 and 20, had been killed along with one of their instructors.
Six of the survivors had been allowed to return home. Two remained in hospital.
Police have not ruled out any possibility as to the cause of blaze, but some locally suggested it could have been due to an electrical fault. The fire broke out near the only door to the school dormitory.
The streets of Paynesville would normally ring to the sound of children playing, but on Friday "all children in the community, whether they are Christians or Muslim, are all interacting.” Zayzay Ballah, who lives near the school, told AFP.
Several Islamic schools in Paynesville City, gathered at the school on Friday to offer a prayer of condolence and sympathy to the lost ones.
“They were our friends and colleagues. What happened though is the will of God, but it is difficult to bear. We are here to say goodbye to our colleagues," said Ousman Keita, a student at another mosque nearby.
Emmanuel Khan, 25, witnessed the tragedy and was still in shock.
“By the time I reached the scene, the fire had already taken over the entire building. I went close to the window where all the students had taken their final refuge.
"My friend was among them. He screamed my name, saying that they were dying. We could not get closer. The fire was too much,” Khan said.