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Kindergarten where lovers and children interact freely

By | May 30th 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Alex Kiprotich

A couple walks into the compound holding each other, then a child in school uniform runs as if to join them only to pick up his ball and dash back. This seems the routine as no one notices anything odd.

The main entrance to the Kindergarten and Kivu Retreat.

A lodging facility and a kindergarten in the same compound may sound miles apart, but not so in Nakuru.

A proprietor of a top class institution has put up a lodging facility together with kindergarten in the same compound.

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Mustard Seed Schools-Kindergarten located about a kilometre from Lake Nakuru National Park shares a compound and blocks with Kivu Retreat run by the same proprietor.

Perimeter wall

And for the past one year, the two businesses have run side-by-side in spite of dangers the children, aged between three and five years, are exposed to.

The retreat shares the main gate with the kindergarten.

There is no perimeter wall to separate the two facilities and children steal quick glances at the goings-on in the lodging rooms when doors are left open.

The children easily run into the rooms while chasing balls and other playing materials. They are also exposed to lifestyles that can easily corrupt their morals.

"We see men with women holding each other and we just laugh," said a minor at the school.

Parents are now raising concerns over the safety of their children after two minors were allegedly sexually molested in March.

The principal Penninah Miano.. [PHOTOS: AGNES WAMBUI and lucas thuo/STANDARD]

A mother of one of the minors said she noticed bloodstains on her daughter’s pants while changing her clothes. She was shocked to learn the girl had been molested.

"At first she refused to say what happened but later opened up and said someone did something bad to her," said the mother.

The case, which is being investigated by the police attached to Nakuru’s Children’s Department, was, however, put on hold after the headmistress requested they wait for a communication from the school’s proprietor.

Defiled child

Mr Patrick Kamau, whose niece was allegedly defiled, also said the school must explain why they are endangering the lives of the children by putting up a retreat facility within the school compound.

Kamau said sex pests could easily lure the children into the rooms without being noticed.

"This is very dangerous for children and action must be taken against those concerned," he said. Most parents, however, do not notice that the kindergarten shares a compound with a retreat facility.

Zipporah Anyango said she enrolled her child this year and did not know there was a retreat right inside the school.

"Though the name of the retreat is boldly written on the school main gate, I thought it was just an advertisement," she said.

The headmistress, Peninah Miano, said she was aware of the two cases of child molestation, but insisted the learners were safe.

Mrs Miano said they were investigating the cases but were not certain they occurred within the school premises.

"When the issue came up, one of the parents came with a police officer to the school and we agreed that we conduct our own investigation first," she said.

She said the caretakers monitor the children closely to ensure they are safe and do not stray into the lodging rooms.

However, this reporter, who posed as a guest, spent more than 10 minutes interacting with two children in the lodging facilities without being noticed. "We are very keen on the safety of the children and though there is no barrier separating the lodges and the classes, we keep a keen eye on the whereabouts of the children," she said. The school, which is affiliated to the Busara academies, opened in 2007 while Kivu Retreat started business last year.

Though the headmistress said the school and the retreat are licensed, the Nakuru Municipal Education Officer Millicent Yugi denied knowledge of its existence.

"I am not aware of the school and I will investigate and it has to be closed down if it is running alongside a lodging facility," she said. Yugi said it was against the Ministry of Education safety standards for schools.

"This is a very serious issue and there is a possibility the kindergarten is operating illegally," she said. She denied allegations by the school’s headmistress that inspectors from the ministry had certified it.

"I am sure officers from the ministry have not inspected it this year and the insinuation it was given a clean bill of health is false," she said.

Nothing wrong

The owner and the director of the school, Ms Stella Karanja, said there was nothing wrong operating the two businesses alongside each other. Karanja said the retreat should not be equated to a lodging facility, though it offers accommodation and sells wine.

"There is nothing wrong with it. A quick suggestion to you is that do look at a meaning of a retreat and it may be for help in your quest," read a short text message she sent to this writer. After the management realised The Standard on Saturday was investigating the issue, they painted the main gate and ordered the watchman not to allow anybody inside the school.

Kindergarten Mustard Seed Schools-Kindergarten Lake Nakuru National Park Kivu Retreat Nakuru Children’s Department
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