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10,000 children out of school as closures invite parents’ anger

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By DAVID MUCHUNGUH
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More than 10,000 learners have been ordered out of dilapidated schools ordered shut by the government in a countrywide crackdown on unsafe institutions.

Education officials have ordered more than 300 primary and secondary schools shut and asked parents to enrol their children in public schools near their homes.

Cabinet Secretary George Magoha ordered an audit and the closure of unsafe and unregistered schools countrywide two weeks ago, but the directive has faced resistance from the same people whose children it was intended to protect.

And Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang issued a circular directing officials to assess the infrastructure in schools and “make appropriate decisions” by October 25 and submit a report to him by October 31.

The resistance to the closures from parents and other stakeholders has lifted a lid on issues influencing education in informal settlements.

“This circular is an emotive reaction to a terrible tragedy which is understandable, but is not a good basis for making effective policy decisions,” Mr Allan Juma Masika of the Kenya Alliance of Non-Formal Schools Welfare Association said.

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Nairobi regional Director of Education Jared Obiero acknowledged that though the ministry has directed where the learners should report, not all of them have done so.

“We cannot force the parents to take them there. It is their democratic right to school their children but the environment must be safe. If it is not, we’ll close the schools,” he told the Nation by phone.

The crisis has been compounded by congestion in many public schools, especially in urban areas.

Parents have complained about long distances to the schools, which are also grappling with a biting teacher shortage that has plagued the sector for years. The Teachers Service Commission has announced plans to engage interns in an attempt to plug the gap.

The directive to close non-compliant schools was a reaction to the tragedy that befell Precious Talent Top School, off Ngong Road in Nairobi, on September 23.

Eight learners were killed and 69 others injured when a classroom block collapsed. The owner of the school, Mr Moses Wainaina Ndirangu, has since been arrested.

He was arraigned on September 27 and detained for 15 days for police to complete investigations.

Learners at the school were relocated to neighbouring public primary schools — Ngong Forest (480), Jamhuri Primary (180) and Riruta Satellite (130).

When the Nation visited the ill-fated school on Friday, eight children were learning outside the classrooms on their own.

“The private schools in this area are supported by foreign donors. The children get free things like lunch and uniforms. Closing the schools means the parents will have to cater for those needs,” the headteacher of a public primary school in Dagoretti South told the Nation.

The owners of the schools, the teacher said, use the poor infrastructure at the schools and poverty of the learners to attract donor funding.

“There are hundreds of these schools in Dagoretti and Kawangware.” Most of them are squeezed into tiny plots and do not even have playgrounds or trained teachers.

But parents have shunned government schools with better infrastructure, spaces and qualified teachers.

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Pama Academy in Kangemi, which was closed last week, is only 800 metres away from two public schools (Kihumbuini and New Kihumbuini primary schools).

Prof Magoha directed that learners be moved to the public schools. He warned, without elaborating, that “we will not allow people to trade with our children”, while calling for more scrutiny of NGOs that operate in informal settlements.

“We are not condemning private schools. Any private school that conforms to the standards that the government has put will be allowed to operate,” Prof Magoha said after closing Greenfields Academy in Mombasa.

He admitted to failure by his ministry in inspecting and registering schools, saying “eight children died out of the carelessness of all of us”.

A visit by the Nation to the public schools revealed that the few pupils who have reported are integrated well. “The children and even the parents are very happy. They are settling in well,” said Mrs Muchiri, the headteacher of Riruta Satellite Primary School.

The school had received over 50 new learners from Precious Talent Top School and a few other private schools.

She said that the learners are counselled together with their parents and an integration session held for them in the classrooms.

Parents who spoke to the Nation said they prefer private schools because they are near their homes and have fewer learners.

They also said that private schools perform better than public schools in national examinations. Where the schools have donors, the learners are fed well.

The government has been blamed for the poor school infrastructure. In Nairobi, for example, according to a report by a task force commissioned by former Governor Evans Kidero in 2014, there were only 205 public schools serving 193,053 children yet the primary school-going population was estimated to be 493,586 in 2012 and 596,868 in 2017.

This means that more than half of the eligible population is either in private schools or are out of school.

“After the feeding programme was stopped, many children went back to the streets. This was the only place they could eat. We even used to pack food for some of them to carry home,” a teacher in Kawangware said.

He explained that the programme, funded by Feed the Children, was withdrawn after a dispute with the government.

Poor performance and overcrowding in public schools have also been attributed to the rise in private schools, with parents willing to pay more for their children to earn better grades.

Not all schools in informal settlements offer free services and some charge over Sh20,000 per term. The lure of the grades then obscures the safety of children.

“The parents don’t care about the methods employed to get these abnormal marks. There is a lot of drilling and the learners later struggle when taken out of that environment. That is not learning,” Mrs Muchiri said.

At Ngong Forest Primary School, over 70 learners have reported. The school will serve as the examination centre for Kenya Certificate of Primary Education candidates.

The ministry has sent textbooks and exercise books for use by the new students. The administration has already started a feeding programme for all the learners.

A lobby comprising the Kenya Alliance of Non-Formal Schools Welfare Association, Kenya Independent Schools Association and Complementary Schools Association of Kenya has opposed the mass closures, saying the action will leave more than two million learners in informal settlements without an education.

Through a statement signed by Mr Allan Masika, Mr Charles Ochieng’ and Mr Charles Ouma, the officials claimed that some parents were being asked to pay a fee before the learners were admitted.

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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