Concern over closure of schools owned by flower farms

Students from Naivasha based Karuturi Secondary school leave the institution which has since been closed down putting the future of over 200 students at stake. The closure follows the move by a receiver-manager who took over Karuturi flower farm to sell all the assets of the farm that at one time employed over 3,000 workers. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The National Parents Association (NPA) and the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) have protested the closure of schools owned by flower farms in Naivasha.

Parents and the union noted that the move could spell doom for tens of students whose parents work in various flower farms in the area.

Karuturi Secondary School was closed by a receiver manager after the parent company, Karuturi flower farm was placed under receivership.

Three months ago, Oserian flower farm closed down Oserian secondary school citing harsh economic times.

The move to close the two schools has affected over 1,000 students with their parents forced to seek alternatives in the densely populated area that has only one public school.

According to NPA Secretary-General Eskimos Kobia, the closure of the school in the middle of the year was worrying and would academically and emotionally affect the students.

He said that the South Lake area which is home to tens of flower farms and workers had only one public secondary school that is congested.

Speaking in Naivasha, Kobia termed the closure of Karuturi secondary as a double tragedy to some parents who transferred their students from Oserian secondary early this year.

“With the low wages that the flower farm workers receive, they are now expected to look for new uniforms and school fees for their children which is demoralizing,” he said.

Kobia called on the Karuturi flower farm receiver manager not to close the school until learners sit for national examinations at the end of the year.

“The Form Fours are already registered for the national exams and one wonders what will happen to them when the school closes its doors,” he said.

Ferdinand Juma, the KPAWU secretary-general Naivasha branch attributed the closure of flower farms to the high cost of production.

He noted that most schools in the area were sponsored by flower farms which were finding it difficult to fund the learning institutions due to the harsh economic times.

“We are worried by the continued closure of schools that have been funded by flower farms and its time that the government engaged the farmers,” he said.

Juma added that some of the farms had gone ahead and withdrawn transport services for their workers as part of cutting down the cost of production.

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