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Uproar after church ploughs, plants maize on school playground

COUNTIES
By Obare Osinde | May 8th 2021

 

The church ploughed and planted maize on the school's playing field. [Courtesy]

When schools reopen on Monday, over 600 learners at Keese Primary School, Keiyo ward, in Trans Nzoia County will have little room for co-curricular activities.

This is after a church ploughed and planted maize on a disputed portion of the school, sparking protest from parents.

The parents are up in arms against the Reformed Church for East Africa's decision to till the institution’s two-acre playground.

RCEA church, through Rev Peter Maasai, however, dismissed the protest insisting that the disputed land belongs to the church.

"The claims that the church has intruded on school land is misleading. We have not planted in the school but on the church's land. We are aware that some individuals want to grab the land by using the name of the school, and we will not allow that," Maasi told The Standard

A parent, Jamin Wafula, said farming activities in the playground deny learners the space to explore their talents and asked county authorities to intervene.

Wafula warned that should they not take action; parents will be forced to transfer their children to other neighbouring schools.

"This school has been in existence since 1939 and most of us studied here. We were using this playing ground to nurture talents such as football and athletics and it is disappointing that the sponsor has turned it for farming. We will not have any option but to transfer our children to other schools," said Wafula.

According to Moses Masambu, a former pupil at the school, the tilled land has always been a playground.

"I was in the school between 1981 and 1988 and we used to play football on the field and it is surprising that someone is turned it into a farming area," said Masambu.

Masambu asked the government to investigate how the land, which he said was earmarked for school development, was carved off. He claimed that the school initially owned 20 acres before it allocated 10 to the secondary school.

Responding to the protest, County Director of Education Dr Salome Maina called for an amicable solution to help end growing hostilities.

“I'm aware of the issue pertaining to Kesses Primary school and it is handled by the county education board," said Maina.

Kwanza Member of Parliament Ferdinand Wanyonyi faulted the church saying it should have consulted parents and area leaders.

“I hope the County Education Board will amicably handle and sort out the problem," said Wanyonyi.

Confirming the incident, Trans-Nzoia County Commissioner Sam Ojwang said the police are investigating the matter.

"As we are speaking police are hunting for the church official who is behind the planting of maize to explain why he is farming on school land. There is no way children will miss playing grounds because the church has used the land for farming. I have directed the area DCC to have the crop cleared the crop before children report on Monday," said Ojwang.

The county commissioner warned the parties against infringing on the children's rights.

"We cannot such malpractices and interference from the church to deny our children space they use to nurture talents. We are going after the individuals behind the cropping on school land," assured Ojwang.

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