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State: Flattened school was illegal and unsafe

By JAPHETH OGILA | Published Wed, May 17th 2017 at 08:26, Updated May 17th 2017 at 08:31 GMT +3
The slabs where Kenyatta Golf Course Academy stood before it was demolished by Kenya Railways. (Photo: David Gichuru/Standard)

Kenyatta Golf Course Academy, which was recently demolished sparking off protests, was not registered.

A statement from the Nairobi Regional Coordinator of Education John Ololtuaa said the school had been existing illegally as it was occupying Kenya Railways land and did not meet the educational requirements.

The location of the school near the railways was also a security risk, the statement indicates.

“We have established that the school was not registered. So, we shall investigate more and give you more details. We have also ascertained that the school moved there in 2014 as a kindergarten but later on expanded to provide lower primary education, whose conditions it did not meet,” Ololtuaa explained.

On Monday, pupils from the school blocked a section of Mbagathi Road following the demolition of the school.

Using their desks, they barricaded the road oblivious to the dangers they were exposing themselves to. Parents who spoke to Metropolitan expressed their displeasure at the demolition despite the fact that the location was a danger to pupils.

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“We never got any notice. We just saw police officers and some men who came to demolish the school on Saturday. So, we kept the school property as Kenya Railways took their materials,” narrated Monica Mwende, who is a parent at the school.

Site unsafe

The school was situated on the edge of a cliff next to the railway line in total disregard to safety.

With no playground in sight and stench from filth hanging in the air, one is left to imagine what the pupils went through. According Mourice Mbuya, who had two children in the school, there was a communication lapse when the Kenyatta Pentecostal Assembly of God got a notice on May 5, 2017 from Kenya Railways about the impending eviction but failed to communicate to the school administration.

“They should have told us that the school was going to be demolished so that we look for other schools for our children. At some point I asked the headmistress about this and she did not give me a clear answer,” lamented Mr Mbuya.

Not only was learning cut short at the crucial stage of the year, at least six  teachers at the school have been rendered jobless.

Mauline Adhiambo, a teacher at the school, received the news about the demolition from one of the parents and rushed to the school. But there was nothing she could do.

According to the Regional Coordinator of Education, the Ministry of Education can only allow kindergartens to be operated in churches and other limited spaces, but primary schools require space for a playground, among other things.

Another person at the centre of controversy is the pastor for the Kenyatta PAG whom they only identified and as Mr Odero and could not be reached on phone.

Inciting pupils

A section of the parents alleged that a sponsor had given Sh300,000 to fund the school’s relocation but the owner and the pastor were yet to give an explanation as to why it did not happen.

Now the head mistress Mrs Dolly Mbulika and the parents are requesting the government and the Kenya Railways to allow them to complete the current term in the area.

Following the Monday demonstration, the police arrested two teachers and two parents over claims of inciting pupils to block the road.

Kilimani head of DCI Philis Kanina said they had evidence to suggest teachers and parents incited the children to block the road.

“They exposed the children to serious dangers,” said Ms Kanina.

Parents such as Mourice Mbuya are also concerned about the safety of their children, given that most schools are in farflung parts of the estate and that implies that their children have to cross the dual-carriage highway.

The school has been accommodating more than 89 pupils drawn from pre-primary level to Standard Three.

The school sat on a small piece of land that is reportedly owned by the Kenya Railways.

According to the safety measures put in place by the Kenya Railways, residential houses or social facilities should be located at least 20 metres away from the centre of the railway line.

But the demolished Kenyatta Golf Course Academy did not meet this requirement.