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Dilemma as schools near forest swells with pupils

The government has evicted over 4, 000 families in the Maasai Mau forest in the process recovering about 16, 500 hectares of land in two phases of evictions.

Phase one of eviction was undertaken in the year 2018 and targeted Kosia and Nkoben areas while the second phase that occurred last year affected parts of Nkoben, Ilmotiok and Ololung`a areas where the families moved out peacefully and voluntarily.

The eviction has seen 15 schools that were built in the forestland closed as plans to fence the forest and plant trees are underway.

A visit to Tendwet Primary School at the border of Maasai Mau forest in Narok South Sub County proves that the number of pupils is swelling despite the limited resources in the school.

The school Deputy Head Teacher Mr. Nehemiah Chelule said since the schools opened a week ago, over 300 new pupils have been admitted to the school making the classrooms congested for the young learners.

He said the number of pupils in the school has tremendously shot up from 600 to almost 1000 against only nine teachers employed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

“The school is flooded because we are not turning away any pupil who is willing to learn; as many come seeking for admission, we offer them a chance to learn,” said the deputy head teacher.

Mr. Chelule lamented they are forced to use the little resources they have to accommodate all the learners saying they are expecting more new pupils this month as the school is located only two kilometers away from Sagamian camp which is holding about 600 families who were evicted from the forest land.

“Most of the people evicted from the forest land are living in a camp only one kilometre from the school. We expect to admit more pupils by the end of this month,” he continued.

The school Board of Management Chairman Mr. Christopher Korir noted the school was not prepared for the additional number of pupils as they had limited resources even before the evictions.

He pleaded with TSC to consider posting more teachers in the school, which had a mean score of 260, marks in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) results.

Ms. Juliana Mutai the class one teacher that has 101 pupils confessed she has never taught a large number of pupils in class since her career began 15 years ago.

“The number of pupils is overwhelming. Five pupils are forced to share one desk making the learning process not very comfortable,” she said.

Ms Mutai reiterated she is forced to teach slowly to ensure all her pupils understand the concept.

A spot check at Sagamian Secondary School also at the forest edge shows that the school has registered many new students in all the classes this year.

The school Principal Ms. Muchiri Rigiti said they expect the number to rise as a number of people evicted from the forest are living in the area.

“We have received tens of new students in form one, two and three. Most of them are those who were evicted from the forest and came to live in the camp near here,” said Rigiti.

Narok South Deputy County Commissioner Felix Kisaru asked chiefs to take data of all pupils who sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), especially those who were evicted from the forest as part of ensuring 100 per cent transition to secondary schools.

The administrator said all the resources in the 15 schools that were built in the forest land will be removed and given to the schools that borders the forest which have experienced increased number of pupils.

 “We have used part of the materials from the schools in the forest land to expand these other schools where the learners have flocked. The desks, chairs and tables will be moved to other schools,” said Kisaru.

However, Kisaru said the government will not allow people to live in the camps saying National Environment and Management Authority policies do not allow hundreds of people to live on a small piece of land.

“What is difficult in buying land far from the forest land? Why do they insist on living near the place they were evicted? We are on standby to ensure no one goes back to the forest,” said the Deputy County Commissioner.

Other schools that have received an influx of learners include Triangle, Olkaria, Enekishomi and Oloshushwa primary at the border of the forestland.

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