West Pokot learners miss class over bandit attacks

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024 02:00 | By
One of the schools closed in Bartabwa area in Baringo North Constituency. Learning has been paralysed in many schools in the North Rift as a result of rampant cases of insecurity in the region.
One of the schools closed in Bartabwa area in Baringo North Constituency. Learning has been paralysed in many schools in the North Rift as a result of rampant cases of insecurity in the region. PHOTO/Wycliffe Kipsang

The fate of hundreds of learners from schools affected by banditry in West Pokot county hangs in the balance as many have not reported to school since January.

This despite the government announcement to rehabilitate schools that were vandalised by bandits and beef up security in the volatile areas.

People Daily has established that many learners were forced to move away from the region and sought refuge in neighbouring schools while some learners have dropped out of school.

A total of seven schools in troubled areas of Chesegon and Turkwel were shut down two years ago due to runaway insecurity.

The government allocated Sh100 million to restore the infrastructure and the purchase of new facilities in the schools.

The schools are Cheptulel boys, Samplomoi, Chesegon, Arpollo and Ksa primary schools along the West Pokot  and Elgeyo Marakwet border where learners did not sit for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA) exams last year due to banditry witnessed in the region.

Other are Lonyangalem, Kour Songok and Karon primary schools in North Pokot Sub County and Tirap, Cheratat primary schools in Pokot Central sub-County.

Local residents and leaders have called on the government to fast-track the rehabilitation of schools for learning to resume.

According to the locals, those rehabilitating the schools were deployed to the area for a very short time and left and have wondered if the reconstruction stopped or if it will continue.

Deserted villages

People Daily has established that many learners are not yet in the affected schools.

At Cheptulel Secondary School, learners are still at Surumben Primary School in Masol ward, more than 50km away.

The schools also lack the promised National Police Reservists to man the schools.

Villages in the area remain deserted after locals migrated from the area due to fear of perennial attacks.

Chesegon Technical Institute that was under construction stalled due to attacks and now it houses security officers.

Kelvin Mweutich a local of Cheptulel area said the Government did a shoddy job in rehabilitation of the schools.

“No proper renovation was done. There are no toilets. The dining hall and dormitories were set ablaze and windows that were vandalised by bandits have not been replaced. They only painted the face of the school. We want to know where the funds for renovation went and who was responsible,” said Mweutich.

According to Cheptulel boys secondary school James Koitilo, there is no water in the school after pipes were vandalised, kitchen demolished, teachers’ quarters vandalised, iron sheets removed by bandits and toilets damaged by termites.

He said the school was relocated but they are very ready to go back in case the pending issues are addressed.

“We are receiving students and we have 52 Form Ones. Last year, we only had eight. The school opened in March last year before we were hosted temporarily at Surumben,” said the principal.

He said the school has no good fence, adding that the population of the school shrunk but it has started picking up.

Pending rehabilitation

“We now have 150 students being hosted at Surumben. The school had grown to 400 students with a good number from the neighbouring Elgeyo Marakwet County before the school went to unbearable levels. The presence of Kenya Defence Force (KDF) officers in the area had boosted the confidence of the community,” he said.

West Pokot Senator Julius Murgor, Sigor MP Peter Lochakapong and West Pokot women Representative Rael Kasiwai said that the schools are not yet ready to host learners because the rehabilitation was still pending.

They said schools in the area have been exposed to danger after KDF officers who were stationed at Cheptulel area were moved to the neighbouring Elgeyo Marakwet County.

“Nothing happened in the staff room and laboratory. The schools need more renovations and it has not reached the level where learners can come,” said Lochakapong.

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