alexa Mau evictions: Learners suffer as schools remain closed - Daily Nation

Mau evictions: Learners suffer as schools remain closed

Friday September 6 2019

Sebetet Centre in Maasai Mau Forest

Sebetet Centre in Maasai Mau Forest. It is one of the 15 community learning centres earmarked for demolition in the second phase of Maasai Mau evictions. PHOTO |FRANCIS MUREITHI |NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FRANCIS MUREITHI
By FRANCIS MUREITHI
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The government’s efforts to end the massive plunder of Maasai Mau through the second phase of evictions may affect the education of thousands of pupils.

Government records indicate that a total of 4,681 pupils are learning in schools that have been earmarked for demolition.

Some of the parents have complained that their children found their classes locked when they reported for the third term on Tuesday.

REVERSED ORDER

But some parents said their children have not reported to school due to conflicting reports from the government on the affected institutions.

“The government says it has reversed the order to shut down schools and when we send pupils to school they find Kenya Forest Service officers manning the gates instead of their teachers,” said Ms Alice Maritim at Kamnge’ngoi village in the Maasai Mau Forest.

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In an earlier announcement, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya reversed the order to shut down 15 schools to allow Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations candidates write the tests uninterrupted.

The KCPE exams start on October 29 while KCSE starts on November4.

Ms Maritim, a mother of eight, said that two of her children at Kabarak Primary School that is adjacent to the forest have not reported to school.

EMPTY CLASSROOMS

The four classes at the school were virtually empty with only one or two desks.

“What does the government want us to do with these pupils?” posed Ms Maritim who claims to have “genuine” land documents for 10 acres of land in the forest.

She added: “We were counted in the 2019 census and this is a clear indication that our children's education was factored in. Our children deserve education just like the rest of Kenyan children.”

When the Nation team visited some of the institutions on Thursday, hundreds of pupils were seen loitering in the nearby trading centres at Olemekenyu.

Faces of despair and hopelessness lined up at the trading centres on the road under construction.

Visibly worried residents were seen in groups discussing the looming evictions, their conversation disrupted every time they see a strange vehicle heading deep into the forest.

Some of the pupils in tattered clothes and worn out shoes were seen idling in various trading centres while others as young as five years old were looking after their parents’ animals as others collected firewood in the depleted forest.

GATE BARRICADED

At Kitoben Primary School 646 pupils are yet to report back since the institution failed to open.

A parent of a pupil at the institution said the gate of the school was barricaded by KFS officers when the pupils reported for third term.

“My daughter is in Class Seven and it is painful to see her idling at home when she should be in school,” said Mr Nicholas Ng’eno.

A resident of Kabarak, Mr Nelson Kiprotich said the heavy presence of KFS officers in the area was scaring pupils.

“The officers should not intimidate the pupils by hovering around the schools,” said Mr Kiprotich.

When some pupils saw the Nation vehicle heading to the school, they came out from their homes to inquire when their school will be opened.

GRAZE LIVESTOCK

“This KFS are bad people, they told us not to enter the school compound. I feel bad because I can’t go to school. They have buried my hope of studying hard and becoming a police officer,” said Dominic Kiprotich Class Five pupil at Ole Selunyi Primary School.

“I am bored at home, my parents are sending me to the forest to graze livestock while my colleagues are in class. The government should end this Mau Forest row because I miss learning,” he added.

A teacher at Kabarak which has 363 pupils said that the eviction of squatters, if not well-handled, will have a long lasting impact on education.

“While I agree the restoration of Mau Forest was long overdue and is in the right direction, I don’t agree with the way the pupils are being handled, some may be traumatised as they are being blocked from entering the schools by KFS officers,” said the teacher.