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Why schools are yet to get Sh1.9b desks and lockers

By Standard Team | October 15th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Joseph Kuria, a carpenter works at his workshop in Witimere, Nyeri Town. Kuria is among the artisans who won the government tender to provide desks at local schools. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Plan by the Ministry of Education to deliver desks, lockers and chairs will not be achieved before the rest of learners resume classes, it has emerged.

The elaborate tendering process for Sh1.9 billion project dimmed hopes of immediate delivery of the 622,000-odd pieces of furniture to schools, as the October 19 deadline approaches.

A total of 5,254 secondary and 5,136 primary schools are expected to benefit from the programme.

Primary schools would receive 360,000 desks at a cost of Sh900 million while secondary schools would get 263,157 lockers and chairs at Sh1 billion.

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Each of the selected primary schools will receive 70 desks as secondary schools get 50.

With projections that the rest of learners — classes One to Three, standards Five to Seven and forms One to Three — will be recalled to class by October 26, it is highly unlikely the delivery target would be met.

The Standard yesterday established that no work to assemble the desks, lockers and chairs had officially started, weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the project in Nairobi.

Even with the tours by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to monitor various workshops, it emerged that official work may start next week as the tendering process was concluded on October 12.

“We have been issuing the award letters for the last two days and perhaps the actual work may start Monday. This means that in about two weeks, some work will have been done,” said a senior Ministry of Education official.

Tender beneficiaries

This means that successful local jua kali workshops, artisans or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at the sub-county level are yet to start working on the desks.

Magoha said each of the primary school desks would cost Sh2,500 while lockers and chairs would cost Sh3,800 under the Economic Stimulus Programme.

The supply of the furniture has been subject of hushed talk among ministry officials even as photographs of learners seated on the floor emerged two days after candidates and Grade Four learners reported back.

In Nairobi, Dean Achesa, a furniture maker at the Umoja workshop where the president visited, remains hopeful.

He said the project was yet to begin because of logistical issues that were addressed.

“I am doing 250 lockers and chairs and 230 single desks,” Achesa said.

In the North Rift, schools are still waiting for the desks and lockers.

Some county officials who spoke to The Standard yesterday said work has started and distribution to the selected institutions could start early next week.

“Schools with needy cases have been identified and workshops also identified for the production of the desks, chairs and lockers,” said Ahmed Omar, the Elgeyo county commissioner.

Masibo Kituyi, the Elgeyo Marakwet County director of education said his committee identified artisans that have capacity to make the desks, chairs and lockers adding that work had started.

Kuyo ole Saoinah, the Turbo sub-County director of education, also said contracts have already been awarded to various workshops for production of desks, chairs and lockers.

By yesterday, schools in Nakuru County were yet to be supplied with desks as education officials held a meeting to finalise the tendering process. 

Lawrence Karuntimi, the county education director said awarding of the contracts was to be done at the sub-county level.

In Busia, county’s director of education Thaddius Awuor confirmed no school had received the desks as of yesterday.

According to Awuor, 15 schools in each of the seven sub-counties will receive the furniture.

In  Nyeri County, carpenters are still waiting for approvals from the national government to start production of the desks. 

Daniel Wamunyiyi, the assistant county commissioner said a team of administrators were visiting to approve samples produced by the workshops which were awarded contracts. In Murang'a County, the artisans have also been waiting for a go-ahead to start working.

[Reports by Augustine Oduor, Jennifer Anyango, Titus Too, Mercy Kahenda, Simon Oyeng, Ignatius Odanga, Lydiah Nyawira and Boniface Gikandi


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