Over 200 pupils stranded after school near Isiolo Airport moved

ACK Ngai Ntethia Primary School

 Parents' association official address pupils at ACK Ngai Ntethia Primary School in Tigania West on the Isiolo-Meru border on January 4, 2021. The pupils who were relocated from Nkengecia Primary School found no teachers at their new school.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

Over 200 learners in KK Village in Tigania West along the Isiolo-Meru border might continue staying at home following the relocation of Nkengecia Primary School, which was affected by developments at the Isiolo International Airport.

Before the closure of schools in March 2020 after the Covid-19 outbreak, the learners were awaiting the completion of new structures about seven kilometres away where the institution would later be moved to.

It is in the course of the nine-month break that construction of the new school was completed and parents were informed that their children should report there this January.

Worried that their children will have to trek for nearly 10km to the new school, the parents reached out to Tigania West MP John Mutunga and education officials for assistance in having teachers deployed to the area to enable the pupils comfortably continue with learning.

Moved desks

The MP, parents said, promised to help them move some of the desks at the old school before the January reopening to three classrooms constructed by his predecessor David Karithi at ACK Ngai Ntethia where he has also constructed one classroom. This was intended to ensure the pupils would not have to walk for long distances to school.

A local education official identified as Peter Munene also reportedly promised to assist the residents by having teachers deployed to the area.

The planned ACK Ngai Ntethia School was to operate under the KK Nkengecia School, according to the agreement between the parents, the MP and the education office.

More than 40 parents who had accompanied over 100 children to the school were on Monday shocked to find no teacher, with the learners waiting in the scorching sun for the whole day.

The bushy compound, dusty classrooms with no desks and lack of water supply in the school where construction of an ablution block is under way further dimmed the hopes of the disappointed parents and learners.

“We are waiting for teachers because we were promised they will be brought to save our children from trekking for over seven kilometres to the new school,” A parent, Mr Ibrahim Muthaura, told the Nation.

KK Nkengecia Primary School

A pupil cycles along Mwangaza-Isiolo Airport road towards KK Nkengecia Primary School on the Isiolo-Meru border on January 4, 2020.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

Drop out of school

Ms Faith Gitonga lamented that their children might drop out of school or get lured into bad behaviour if an immediate solution is not found.

“We want the process of opening the school expedited because we fear our children will lose a lot and their education could be ruined,” she said.

Parents whose children are in lower classes will have to part with at least Sh400 for a boda-boda ride to and from school, which many cannot afford.

Addressing journalists at ACK Ngai Ntethia, the parents asked the government to expedite the process of deploying teachers and ensure requisite infrastructure is put in place to salvage the situation.

“It is so unfortunate that neither the MP nor the education office communicated prior to the reopening despite having promised to chip in and assist,” said the parents’ chairperson James Maingi.

Contacted, the Tigania West MP only said that plans are under way to divide the classrooms so that they accommodate the learners but he did not reveal when this will happen.

'Did not meet parents'

But Mr Munene, the Tigania West education official, distanced himself from the issue, saying that he had not met the parents earlier as claimed, and that the employment of teachers is a mandate of the Teachers Service Commission.

At the same time, more than 100 primary schools in Isiolo risk having their water and power supply disconnected due to unpaid bills. If this happens, it will pose a health risk to pupils who resumed learning after a nine-month break occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenya Primary School Head Teachers Association (Kepsha) Isiolo Chairman Abdullahi Rashid asked the government to expedite the release of the free primary education funds to enable schools clear the bills and pay non-teaching staff who include cooks and security guards.

“We are also appealing to the water and power companies to be considerate and patient with the schools as we wait for the money to be released,” the Wabera Primary School headteacher said, adding that delays in release of the funds will cause a crisis in the schools.


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