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Banditry, drought haunt Baringo learners hoping to join high school

Clement Cheburet plants maize while carrying his gun on his back at Kasiela in Baringo south on May 4,2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

From writing their examination under gunshot sounds, learners who excelled in the 2021 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams in Baringo are facing yet another crisis.

The learners are unable to join Form One due to a lack of fees and funds to cater to other needs. They celebrated when the results were released last month, but the joy was short-lived. Parents lost their livestock, the only source of income, to bandits and drought.

Mr Richard Kimosop’s daughter Rachael Jepchirchir got 365 marks and may not be able to join secondary school. Jepchirchir was enrolled at Kapropita Girls.

She was a pupil at Kapindasum Primary in Baringo South and was among those who were relocated due to insecurity. She sat the exam at Chemorongion Primary.

During the exams, 12 General Service Unit officers manned the examination centre each day. To access the school, teachers had to be escorted by the officers.

In 2012, Kimosop lost more than 100 livestock to bandits. In November 2021, he lost another 30 cows to raiders. “I have three children in high school and have no hopes that Jepchirchir will join secondary.” 

He said his daughter would have done much better were it not for insecurity, adding that at the time of writing the exam, they were attacked. He said his family has resorted to burning charcoal to earn a living.

Kimosop, a trained security officer, lost his job in 2012 after he went home to follow up on his livestock that had been stolen by bandits. The father of seven said the charcoal business cannot sustain him as there is no ready market.

Wilson Kandie who got 367 marks said he has no hopes of joining secondary. The Standard met Kandie at Chemorongion centre. He was the top student at Kapindasum Primary and had left his Laikipia home where his parents fled after incessant bandit attacks.

Kandie was admitted to Kabarnet High and said his parents lost more than 140 livestock to attackers last year.

Kapindasum head teacher Elijah Kiptoo said Rael Jerotich, an orphan who got 308 marks and was admitted to Torongo Girls, also needs help. Jerotich’s parents, he said, were killed by bandits.

“I tried looking for sponsorship but we got none. I am worried that they might lose hope.” He said insecurity and tension continue to affect learning, adding that Kapindasum Primary might not re-open.

Only seven pupils reported to Chemorongion where they moved to upon re-opening. In 2019, Kapindasum Primary had more than 600 learners but only 120 remained following massive displacement.

Cheburet, National Police Reservist officer carrying his gun as schools remain closed in the area due to the banditry attacks.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Other schools affected by insecurity include Sinoni, Arabal, Kasiela and Embossos primary schools.

At Kasiela, desks have been destroyed by ants. The centre also remains deserted. In one of the classrooms, a rifle discharging a bullet is drawn on the board. A chief’s office at Kasiela also remained bushy.

Resident Johnson Cheboi said they are not willing to go back to their homes. He said the bandits are unpredictable and could strike anytime. 

Tension remained high in Kasiela and only a handful of residents were spotted on their farms under the watch of armed police reservists.

“I don’t see any hope of schools being re-opened. Teachers fled and the parents fear,” Cheboi said, adding that the few animals that remained died as a result of the drought.

Musa Cheptoo said he will not allow his two children who are pupils are Sinoni Primary to go back. “I will look for other schools elsewhere and if unable I let them stay at home.”

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohamed said he met the county commissioner last week to plan on the re-opening of schools.

Children, he said, have to go to nearby schools so as not to disrupt their learning. 

He said authorities were happy with the work that has been done with the units manning the area to restore peace.