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Government MUST invest in EDUCATION to end troubles in West Pokot, Turkana counties

UREPORT
By Joylene Singoei | March 14th 2014

 

West Pokot and Turkana counties have witnessed increased cases of insecurity in the recent past, the latest being Lorogon border dispute.

The two counties have several things in common, both positive and negative aspects. The two are pastoral communities, are rich in culture and endowed with minerals and oil and breathtaking sceneries along the Kerio Valley.

Oil has been discovered in Turkana, while there is limestone deposits in Pusel, Chepchoi, Sebit, Ortum, Tamkal, Iyang River, Endough, Kiwawa, Alele, Lokinyala and Marich areas in West Pokot.

The government should ensure such untapped resources are exploited and MUST benefit the locals.

On the other hand, the two counties are marginalised and most residents live in abject poverty marred with high illiteracy levels. There are few,  inadequate and ill-equipped social amenities especially schools and health centres. Poor infrastructure and insecurity also bedevils the two regions.

Back to Lorogon issue. The mother of the dispute is boundary disagreements. All the Kenyan government can do is solve the issue using relevant authorities, leaders from Turkana and Pokot communities should participate in every step of the conflict resolution plan. Deploying Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) at the volatile border is a short-term remedy, it will only deal with the symptoms as the disease advances to chronic stage. Symptoms here is the insecurity that has led to lose of lives while the disease is the boundary dispute. KDF will quell the rising tension and stem further deaths but for how long?

Besides finding an amicable solution to border disputes, the government in conjunction with the county governments MUST invest in education by setting aside schools funds. The money will refurbish existing schools and create others in places where they are scarce.

I hail from West Pokot, Lomut Ward in Chepuserion village. The nearest primary school is approximately 5kms away. The school is ELCK Parsonga primary school. What does this mean? Children start school at a later age because the school is very far, trek to school under scorching sun and mostly on an empty stomach because the place is semi-arid and marred by crop failure.

The few children who manage to set foot in a classroom face numerous challenges. There are few teachers and limited or no learning materials. All theses challenges become a fertile ground for school dropouts and low enrollment.

Parents too are not motivated to send their children to school, instead, they chose to send them to grazing fields to herds goats because after all, that is the only source of livelihood they know.

West Pokot needs more equipped schools and feeding programmes should be introduced, probably lunch. Boarding schools should also be introduced especially for the girls. This will save them from the merciless jaws of retrogressive cultural practices namely; Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forced and early marriages.

This will act as an incentive and most parents will send their children to school and enrollment will increase.

Local leaders too should encourage our people to embrace education and if possible cite examples of those whose lives have improved because of education.

Area chiefs and their assistants are crucial in convincing residents. They can hold barazas and invite elites from the region.

 

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