Maragua town cries for a public school
Children starting school in Maragua town must trek at least three kilometres to the nearest public nursery and primary school.
This inconveniences parents, who have to carry their younger children on their backs to and from school and squeeze this daily chore into their workday.
"Our children report to school earlier than the set time because their parents want them to be in school by 6am so that they can start their hustles by 7.30am,” said Maragua Residents and Business Community Association (MRBCA) coordinator Mohammed Omar Maluki.
The routes to school are clogged with dangerously ridden motorcycles and speeding motor vehicles, not to mention the threat of sex pests.
"We call upon the government to build a township public school for us. It means a lot to us and it will be a great relief for our parents, most of whom are single mothers working in non-skilled labour jobs," he said.
The area has 20 acres of land that was set aside for a public school, said MRBCA chairman Henry Beauttah, but there have been disagreements between administrators and stakeholders on who should implement it.
"Some administrators want us to hold a harambee to implement the project so that they can grab the budget,” he said.
“We as MRBCA want the government to set aside funds and build the school for us while private school owners operating in town want the project dead to keep them in business."
Central Region Director of Education Milton Nzioka told Nation.Africa that the residents’ issue "is a clear-cut case of not knowing the process of reaching out to the government to help them".
He said the matter is serious as it touches on the welfare of children and the right to access education in the most convenient and secure manner.
"I will help them get started. The community, through their representative, should write to the county director of education (CDE) on their proposal to start a public school. They can first make a physical visit to the CDE to be guided," he said.
Mr Nzioka said the CDE will then send a team to assess the site and determine the viability of a new school and upon ascertaining that it is a deserved project, money will be set aside to implement it.
Maragua Town Parents Association (MTPA) has written to the area assistant county commissioner, demanding that the land meant for the public school be surveyed, beaconed and fenced.
MTPA chairman Wekesa Wafula urged area leaders to unite and have the school built so as to keep grabbers off the land and reduce the distance children walk to the nearest public school.
"As long as this prime land remains undeveloped, grabbers will continue hovering around it. They are sending squatters to occupy some corners of the land just to weigh our response," he said.
Mr Wafula said delays in implementing the project have been deliberate because grabbers want the land and others want to control the implementation budget or use it for political reasons.
"We will partner with relevant authorities to survey, beacon and issue a title deed for the land. We will also kick out any illegal occupants on that land. We will also charge in court any person who has stolen any land belonging to schools," Mr Nzioka said.
Mr Maluki said there have been several attempts to grab the land by some area politicians, businesspeople and administrators.
"This will deny our children their right to basic education ... Our local leaders have not been enthusiastic to have the school built because they want the land to remain unutilised to facilitate grabbing," he said.