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Arsonists dash candidates’ hopes of sitting KCPE

RIFT VALLEY
By LEONARD KULEI | November 10th 2013

           Police reservists keep vigil at Kamwetio Primary School  PHOTO: LEONARD KULEI

By LEONARD KULEI

The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations are set to begin next week, but few candidates are preparing for the same at Kamwetio Primary School in Baringo North District.

The pupils’ books were destroyed after arsonists set the school ablaze. Cherop, a candidate, says her future now hangs in the balance after the school which had nurtured her for eight years went up in flames.

She holds on to her tattered books she salvaged from the inferno which reduced the school to ashes.

 “I see myself as a failure in life already because where in the first place am I going to sit my examinations next week? Our home at Kamwetio is now  ashes, where do I even call home?” wondered Cherop.

A desolate Sammy Kiprop recalls how he left his books in the now destroyed school. “It was a usual school day though there was word doing round that Pokot raiders had been spotted in the area,” he says.

Little did he know that would be the last day he would step in the school he had known for almost a decade. Other children who are now desperate for a place to get education were forced to flee to Kesumet village, where their families have sought refuge.

“If it was not because of insecurity, Kamwetio Primary School would be operational and we would be doing our KCPE like other schools next week. Why has the government turned a deaf ear on us? Are we not equal to other children in Kenya?” posed a dejected Kiprop.

For Ms Mary Yator, 39, things have never been the same since the May attack. The hope to see her firstborn daughter proceed to a good high school seems a mirage for now. The candidate has been out of school since the school was razed.

Hopes of doing well in the examinations are now in doubt given that she has not been in class for so long and was doing revision on her own.

“This is so demoralising. We have been homeless and the government has never done anything to return our children to school. See my daughter, my only hope just staying here with me, what will her future be? lamented Yator.

Displaced

According to Mr Daniel Lomul, the school head teacher, the area is currently uninhabitable especially after the school and neighboring homesteads were set ablaze in March.

“That place is a war zone. All the teachers I had have moved to safer places and my pupils are left desperate. If the government had moved in quickly I think we would be sitting for KCPE next week,” he said.

Lomul and a teacher John Chepkonga called for speedy action to save the situation. Children from displaced families learn under trees at Kesumet ECD centre.

“We would have catered for the upper class children but we are incapacitated. There are no classes we are using the trees as classes for nursery kids. I am doing this because I am worried of a generational gap,” said Lomul.

Ms Salome Loitabela, 53, says her son is also supposed to be sitting for the examinations but they are not sure if that will happen.

“What will happen to our children who are supposed to do their KCPE next week? Where will they go while their school was razed down? Will they really sit for the exams?” posed Loitabela, a mother of seven.

In the evening of May 27, residents of Kamwetio village in Bartabwa Division, Baringo County went to sleep only to woken up by gunfire that left five men dead and over 10,000 livestock stolen by Pokot raiders.

Abject poverty

What followed was a mass exodus of over 300 displaced families who have since pitched camped at Kesumet village.

It is here that women and children live in wanton abandon. Away from what was the comfort of their homes in decades, they live in make shift tents donated by World Vision.

A few who are fortunate to have found a little space in a friend’s place have put up a structure to house their families as they await for peace to return.

Mr Elijah Timorio recalls how everyone scampered for safety following the attack. He says that they live in abject poverty as their property and crops were destroyed.

“We left all crops in the farms which we later learnt that the Pokot let their animals to graze, we are now living like refugees in our own land, there is no food for our children who have no school to attend,” said Timorio.

Many months later, families still live as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) even as the Jubilee administration promised to settle all displaced persons in the country. Theirs remain a story of desolation, death and despair.

Mr Samson Tabashach a victim of the age-old raids says that he has never known peace with the Pokot since he was young. “They are very dangerous and merciless. They have killed so many of our people and the government should do something or else we will remain homeless,” he said.

The school founded in 1982 was set ablaze by marauding bandits and what has been holding the future of over 200 pupils has been reduced to ashes.

And as other KCPE candidates do their last minute revision setting for themselves goals, their counterparts in Kamwetio only hope they can even only sit for the paper and get whatever mark. They have been out of school since May.

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