Despite being entangled in banditry attacks and human-wildlife conflicts, children in Laikipia North sub-county are determined to quench their thirst for education.
The constituency has eight secondary and 28 primary schools. The children’s quest for education is mirrored by the increasing enrolment trends in the few available institutions over the years.
According to the County Quality Assurance and Standards officer Amadi Mugasia, secondary school enrolment in Laikipia North was 1,390 students in 2016, but the number has increased to 1,943 this year.
“About 400 students enrolled in Form One this year. In fact, the sub-county is currently leading with 96 per cent transition from primary to secondary school.
‘‘This means that nearly all the 761 pupils, who sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education got placements at the tertiary level,” Dr Mugasia said.
According to the Ministry of Education, enrolment in primary schools is at 7,409 pupils compared to last year’s 7,276.
In 2019, the local secondary schools enrolled 1,671 students compared to the current 1,943.
But according to area MP Sarah Korere, the ministry has been an impediment to a steady and smooth transition of learners in the two levels of education by being reluctant to register adequate schools.
Ms Korere singled out Kirimon sub-location in Sosian ward, which had its first-ever learning institution —Mouwarak Primary — registered recently by the ministry.
The MP noted that the community and well-wishers have, over the years, been injecting resources towards establishment of schools, but efforts to have them registered by the ministry have not born fruit.
“Can you imagine having a sub-location with a population of about 5,000 people without a primary or a secondary school? At least the ministry has registered one school, but Laikipia North is still lagging behind as far as realisation of basic education is concerned,” Ms Korere says.
“For instance, I took an initiative of bringing on board well-wishers to build Naibor Amani Primary in the constituency. We injected over Sh15 million into the project and met all the basic requirements, but registration of schools has been impeded by bureaucracy in the ministry,” she added.
The MP said the government should support the community by registering local schools so as to shorten the distance traversed by learners to access education.
“Education is the key that will end cattle rustling, early marriages, and female circumcision among other vices.
“If we don’t build schools and equip them with adequate teaching staff, residents of Laikipia North will continue being branded as bandits,” Ms Korere said.
She added that some institutions are sparsely located, hence exposing learners to elephants and other wild animals that stray from expansive ranches and conservancies.
However, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) County Director Loice Murrey said they have adequately staffed all the 36 schools in the sub-county to enhance smooth learning.
“Each primary school has at least seven teachers while the secondary schools have at least nine teachers each. Our mandate as a commission is to ensure that our schools have enough teachers. If issues of retrogressive cultures, poor schools infrastructure and insecurity are eradicated, Laikipia North has the potential to scale great heights in education,” Ms Murrey said.
She clarified that despite the cropping up of schools set up by the community in the region, TSC is only obliged to send teachers to government-registered institutions.
“TSC has its policies and we cannot deploy teachers to schools that have not been registered by the ministry. Once a school is registered and a certificate is presented to my office, the first step is to post a principal or a head teacher, and later post additional teaching staff,” the official said.
Asked about the status of education in Laikipia North, County Director of Education Susan Murerwa directed the Nation team to Dr Mugasia for details.
Dr Mugasia said the constituency had only four registered secondary schools in 2016, but the number has increased because local communities have embraced education.
They are Doldol Boys, St Francis Girls, Il Polei, Kimanjo, Ewaso Kurum, Chumvi and Lukusero secondary schools.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers Laikipia Executive Secretary Jackson Thangei lauded efforts by TSC to recruit adequate teachers in local schools.
He said that the move is an improvement from the past years.
Mr Thangei urged the government to put more efforts into combating insecurity in the region and ensuring that the school feeding programme is rolled out consistently.