Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) George Magoha today waded into the debate over plans to relocate schools in Kisumu CBD to the outskirts of the lakeside city.
Magoha argued that the schools were 'safe' wherever they were and warned against relocation.
He asked Governor Anyang Nyong’o and his government to stop scaring learners.
Speaking at Kisumu Girls’ High School today, Magoha said, the relocation could only be done after thorough public participation with the residents.
“As we are now, every Kenyan school is safe as you can imagine where it is. If there is an issue and it comes to the ministry we shall take it to public participation. For example, if you want to relocate a school anywhere else, you must ask the people there. Our government is not a dictatorial one,” he said.
He criticised the debate as a mundane one that should not crop up now that the ministry is working tirelessly to ensure every child joins secondary school.
He was reacting to Governor Nyong’o's sentiments that his government was exploring ways for the schools in Kisumu central business district to share amenities to save land for commercial use.
On Tuesday, Nyong’o told journalists in Nairobi that Kisumu Boys will be relocated from the city to a new site to pave way for the establishment of economic spaces.
“Considering the value of the place, that land needs to be useful. We need to construct an integrated urban centre rather than schools,” Nyong’o said.
Nyong'o's announcement sparked an uproar with the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) criticising the plans and wants the attempts halted citing a lack of public participation.
Kisumu Kuppet Executive Secretary Zablon Awange claimed that the attempts were ill-informed and a misplaced priority. He claimed that all key stakeholders have been sidelined in the proposals to relocate the iconic school.
He said the education fraternity will reject any attempts to relocate Kisumu Boys and Kisumu Girls.
The two schools sit at the heart of the city and cover large swathes of space which the devolved unit wants to put into commercial use.
The plans have been integrated into the proposed Kisumu Local Physical and Land Use Development Plan. The controversial plan also proposes sweeping changes to existing structures located within the city, expansion of the city’s borders as well as new rules on land ownership.
The proposals have also zoned out various regions of the county with each having specific investments and land use plans.
It has mapped out the outskirts of the city to provide high-density residential areas. Among the areas mapped out to provide residential zones are Buoye, Mayenya, Kasule and Chiga as well as some villages in Kisumu West where the plan proposes restrictions on the types of infrastructure done by locals.
The proposals also entail a plan to relocate schools located within the CBD to pave way for new commercial spaces.
However, the plans to relocate Kisumu Boys and Kisumu Girls could only begin in 2030, with a technical committee which developed the proposals, noting that the process is a long term project.
The plan also intends to change the scope of housing in the city with the county eyeing to establish affordable housing for residents.
Kuppet accused the devolved unit of failing to address teething problems in the education sector including poor infrastructure in Early Childhood Centers.
Social media was also awash with criticism of the plans mooted by the devolved unit with a number of users claiming that the decision to relocate the two schools was uncalled for.
Nyong'o wants the schools moved to Kibos and common amenities done for them.