School with no fence exposes learners to crime and insecurity

Bondeni Primary School in Nakuru. The school lacks a fence and this has led to encroachment and strangers accessing the school and building being vandalised. [Caroline Chebet, Standard]
Unknown people can be spotted entering Bondeni Primary School in Nakuru Town East. It is easy to mistake them for visitors headed to the school’s office, but the truth is far from that.

They are there to roam the school compound, with some sitting at the hedges - taking drugs and whiling time away.

Teachers decry they are no longer safe - anytime they can be accosted by the intruders.

To ensure their safety, they are dropped at the doorstep of the staff room by boda bodas.

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The intruders, who seem to fear no one, are said to be linked to a daring criminal gang dubbed ‘Confirm Group’.

Measures unsuccessful

The gang is notorious for terrorising locals, especially business people.

When the Saturday Standard visited, head teacher Jacinta Kimani lamented that measures to prevent entry of strangers into the institution have been unsuccessful.

Interestingly, there are also 16 houses inside the school compound occupied by strangers - (individuals not teachers neither employees).

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“Everyone gains entry into the school and we cannot question them. If we do, they turn against us because majority are criminals,” said Ms Kimani.

The criminals, she said also enter classrooms during the day, which they convert into sleeping quaters at night. Not surprising, education standards at the school are wanting, since smooth learning is hard to realise.

Insecurity has affected enrollment, and performance of learners in national examinations, an issue that is now of great concern to stakeholders.

The school has only 249 pupils, down from 320, in addition to only 12 pupils undertaking Early Childhood Education.

Grade One only has 19 pupils, a number Kimani says is very low. She worries that the school may end up having zero enrollment. 

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The head teacher fears that the criminal gang is also wooing a section of pupils into crime. Two weeks ago, a stolen bicycle was recovered hidden in one of the classrooms, and a pupil was implicated.

“We fear that some pupils are now members of the gang who terrorise and steal from members of the public,” she said.

Asked why the school compound has not been fenced, the head teacher said the challenge has been lack of finances. “It is our wish to have the entire school fenced, but we lack finances.

We manage by God’s favour. Often, I meet criminals in the compound who ask that I remain silent whenever I question their presence at the school,” said the teacher.

Criminal activity

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Insecurity in schools is becoming a cause for concern. Last month, a Physics teacher from Hopewell High School in Barut, Nakuru County, was killed while on duty; he had just been from supervising evening remedial classes.

Peter Omare is suspected to have been killed by strangers and students at the school, who have since been arraigned at the courts.

The 32-year-old teacher had confiscated a mobile phone from a Form Four student before meeting his death.

Contacted, the Rift Valley Education Director Mary Gituru said it is mandatory for schools to be fenced according to education safety regulations, noting that board of management and schools should prioritise their expenditure as per needs of the school.

Dr Gituru said the ministry would meet with board of management, security department and county commissioner’s office to find a quick solution to the issues affecting learning within various schools. “It requires multi-agency collaboration to guarantee safety of learners while in school. That is why we are involving various stakeholders to flush out criminals within school premises,” she said.

Nakuru OCPD Daniel Kitavi said it is the responsibility of school management to ensure schools are fenced and any criminal activity reported for swift action.

He however said patrols shall be intensified to arrest criminals within the estates and those who idle within learning premises.

A special police team has also been formed to fight a criminal gang that has in the past terrorised locals and business operators in Nakuru.

“The police shall not condone a section of individuals out to interrupt learning.

We have intensified patrols to ensure pupils are safe in schools, including locals within their business and homes,” said the police boss.

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