By Melisa Maimuna
An 8 million shillings grant by the Japanese Government has placed a smile on the faces of girls studying at St. Bakita Nagis Primary School.
Many of these girls have endured long, dangerous walks to the school along routes infested with wild animals and male attackers.
The Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Tatsushi Terada told a groundbreaking ceremony that the project was selected out of more than 440 applications, received in 2014. The competitive grant named Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP) is expected to create conducive learning environment for the pupils in order to enable them improve academic performance.
“I understand pupils walk for long distance to school and are under risk of being attacked by wild animals and female pupils sometimes face threats of being harassed by ill- intentioned men. The meaning of our assistance is more than just improving their learning environment; it assists to prevent them from danger,” he said.
The project received a grant amounting to USD 88,361 (approximately ksh 8m) for construction of two classrooms, two dormitories, two toilet blocks for pupils and one block for teachers with the aim of improving the schools educational environment from Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP), this was the first project in Turkana since 2008.
Governor Josphat Nanok thanked the Government of Japan for a rare gift:
The best and most lasting gift for a Turkana child remains education because any hand out will soon get over and they will be back knocking your door for assistance. On behalf of Turkana people I really appreciate the government of Japan for their helping hand.
The ambassador urged teachers to put more effort in protecting the pupils and give them full support to help develop their own abilities and talents to ensure bright future.
Turkana County has established a yard to improve livestock trade in Kalemunyang’ village in Loima sub county.
The Turkana county government funded the yard, which is the third to be opened. It was opened by the Turkana county governor Josphat Nanok accompanied by other Turkana county leaders.
The yard will also unite people from Turkana and neighbouring pastoralist communities like West Pokot, Uganda,
South Sudan and Ethiopia.
“The yard will alsounite people fromTurkana and neighbouring pastoralistcommunities likeWest Pokot, Uganda,South Sudan andEthiopia”
Speaking during the opening, the governor urged the people of Turkana to embrace business as a source of livelihood to improve their living standards.
He also asked county leaders to cooperate and promised that the county government would work closely with the
national government to address causes of insecurity.
This comes after months of reported incidents of attacks by bandits on cattle traders who are en-route to the markets. Present was the minister for live-stock and pastoral economy Christopher Eporon who said the ministry would provide drugs to treat livestock diseases and water at livestock markets.
Each women want to fetch water for domestic use or when herders are forced to line up from the bottom of the well to the top so that they can pass water containers from one person toanother.
LOBEI/KOTARUK, LOIMA SUB-COUNTY
Lobei/Kotaruk ward is part of the large Loima sub-county in Turkana County. This region is blessed with fresh pasture for livestock, serving
Turkana north and south sub-counties and other areas like Napeililim,Lomeyen and Nakoriek.
However, water remains scarce with residents and livestock herders being compelled to dig their own traditional wells along the rivers, which they can depend on especially during droughts.
Lobei/Kotaruk residents have not yet felt the impact of devolution where resources are close to the people.
Instead, they have been hit hard by water shortage that has prompted residents to fetch water from traditional killer wells where residents, mostly women, risk their lives fetching water.
Each well has a depth of between 10 to 15 metres. When women want to fetch water for domestic use or when herders want to fetch water for
livestock at least 11 people are forced to line up from the bottom of the well to the top so that they can pass water containers from one person to another.
There are instances when the walls have collapsed leading to loss of lives.
In pastoral communities, women carry the obligation of fetching water, which exposes them to the dangers of killer
According to Lobei/kotaruk residents, most of the victims when wells collapse have been women.
Lobei/Kotaruk member of county assembly David Ateyo testified about a traditional well known as ‘Lopirpira’ which has claimed the lives of more than 15 people both men and women.
“These rivers have loose soil and in most cases they collapse and kill a number of people inside,” he narrated.
He added that residents work collectively when fetching water for domestic and livestock use. This is because households do not have enough labor to fetch water. This has transformed fetching water from being a household chore into a communal effort.
He also referred to other wells in River Nakatwan in Nakejuakaal where herders fetch water for livestock.
However, in some instances they fail to deliver water to the top after the wells collapse and bury them deep down the surface.
The residents are urging the county government through the ministry of water, agriculture and irrigation to drill boreholes for them so as to reduce the risk of losing lives.
Lokipetot Areng’an pupils benefit with learning materials from Donate-A-Book Kenya after the media highlighted their plight in July. PHOTO: ROBERT KARIUKI
Lokipetot Areng’an Primary School in Loima sub-county received learning materials from Donate a book Kenya, a charitable organization based in Nairobi. The school, which was highlighted in July after it was found out that the area chief and a 75 year-old man were taking responsibility of teaching because the school had no teachers forcing TSC Director to deploy three teachers.
LOKIPETOT ARENG’AN, LOIMA SUB-COUNTY
Understaffing was not the only challenge that has been affecting the school as it was also noted that lack of learning materials and class structures were dragging behind the education sector in the sub-county.
Speaking during the handing over of the books Donate-a-Book Kenya, Managing Director, Kome Kimonye said they were touched by the news that showed the pupils writing on the ground due to lack of books and pencils. He said it was hard for pupils to compete with others who have better facilities. “On this issue, what touched us mostly is when we saw the pupils writing on the sand, and we asked ourselves how then do they do their revision after normal classes? As much as they do not have text books they need access to basic materials like exercise books, pencils, rubbers and any other stationery,” said Kimonye.
The organization donated books, pencils and rubbers to the 200 pupils and they promised to be back next year to supply
more stationery as they plan to construct a community library in Turkana County and 10 other counties.
Speaking when receiving the books, Jackson Lowoi, Member of the County Assembly for Loima Ward on behalf of Hon. Protus Akuja, M.P. Loima constituency and Hon. David Ateyo, Member of County Assembly for Kotaruk-Lobei ward, appreciated the donors for the support and said that the county government is ready to welcome all development partners who want to change the face of Turkana County.
“I would like to appreciate and thank Donate-a-Book Kenya for their initiative of supplying writing materials to the pupils
who have been taking lessons from the ground. We want to urge the government to come in and make sure schools like this are considered because education has not been devolved, however, the county government can assist where necessary,” he said. He
added the government should devise strategies to ensure funds are available for building and improving school facilities such as classrooms, latrines and staffrooms.
The M.C.A was accompanied by Juliet Ajele, quality assurance officer in Loima district, Loima sub-county administrator Titus Ekiru and Sylvester Lolele, the area chief. Ajele thanked the organization saying they had come at the right time because the school has not been receiving funds from the ministry of education. “We thank Donate-a-Book Kenya and in fact they have come at the right time since this school has not been getting funds from the ministry. The parents to these pupils are very poor hence they cannot afford to buy books for their children and as we all know it is through education that a child will benefit and later assist the community,”
Mr. Kome Kimonye, Managing Director, Donate-A-Book Kenya M.D distributes learning materials to Lokipetot Areng’an pupils in Loima Sub-County. PHOTO: ROBERT KARIUKI
The organization targets to help the country end the book famine complimenting the efforts of the government in making
sure that reading and writing materials are available and easily accessible to all children in the country regardless of where they come from.
Kapedo Mixed Secondary School candidates skipped some biological practical questions due to lack of specimens following insecurity in the region.
As candidates prepared to sit for their biology practical exam, the school principal, Daniel Namunwa was out of the school in search for specimens.
On the eve of the practical exam day, he was from Chemolingot travelling in a G.S.U Toyota Land Cruiser, along with 7 soldiers and the biology teacher.
However, they were unable to continue with the journey. At Chesitet, they were repulsed by 200 bandits who forced them to retreat. After concluding they would not make it to the school in time,
Namunwa explained the situation to the District Education Officer, the County Education Director and K.N.E.C officials as they sought guidance on the way forward.
The Kenya National Examination Council advised them to go on with the exam and told the candidates to tackle any 2 questions apart from the ones which required the specimens. The specimens were Lantana camara tree and fresh Tristania SPP tree and also microscopes, slides and covers, which were obtained to be used in the practical exams but unfortunately due to the prevailing insecurity in the region the principal was not able to deliver the specimens on time.
Informal closure of school
Apart from biology practical exam, there were problems after teachers abandoned the candidates and fled the school. The students from the lower classes also escaped fearing for dear life, and were unable to sit the end of year exams. The form threes’ entrants also missed the entry exams to form four after they were held hostage at Chemolingot.
The principal had to write to the parents, guardians and sponsors of the students to consider the previous term results report as they wait to do end of year and form four entry exams early next year when schools reopen for the 1st term. The school unofficially closed.
Blow to education Kapedo is a dangerous area and even as security operations continue the residents especially the students and teachers are not sure whether the situation will return to normal. Each morning, they wake up and pick up cartridges of stray bullets in the school compound.
The situation in Kapedo will lower the quality of education in the region and will also be a challenge to the examination council when it comes to marking of the exams done by candidates coming from such areas prone to frequent raids, who are ranked together with others in developed urban schools.
With the unstable state of security, one challenge likely to come up is understaffing of teachers. Already, understaffing is a major challenge to most schools in Turkana county and if more schools are yet to face the same monster, which is killing the education sector, then it is evident that in years to come, schools will only be decorative structures with no teaching.