By AUGUSTINE NJENGE | NOVEMBER 17th 2016
Close to 200 pupils from Kipsinende Primary School together with their teachers, parents and Kaptagat community braved the chilly Uasin Gishu weather on Friday 11th November to walk for 10km to mark the end of a week long campaign on the importance of protection, titling of public school land.
The walk, christened ‘Protect My School’, was aimed at instilling a sense of ownership among stakeholders in the education and land sectors in matters public school land since the president issued a directive that all public schools in Kenya should be issued with title deeds. With schools within Uasin Gishu said to be at risk of being grabbed, Kipsinende Primary School was a picked as a participant for the walk during the annual Kenya Primary Schools Headteachers conference in Mombasa in a bid to point out the role of disadvantaged groups to ensure they get justice. The walk was flagged off by Kipsinende Primary School Headteacher Pauline Malakwen in the presence of Uasin Gishu County Assitant Director of Education Kimei and National Lands Commission Uasin Gishu County Coordinator Mr. Matano and Shule Yangu Campaigns Manager Victoria who lead the initiative. Mr Matano said the National Lands Commission was committed towards ensuring that Public Land that is meant for educational institutions such as primary schools is protected from land grabbers.
Land-grabbing is prevalent in Uasin Gishu, with the Governor, Jackson Mandago, raising alarm in April 2016, over the rate of grabbing public land. With over 500 court cases related to public land grabbing in the county, the Governor raised concern of systematic grabbing by powerful and corrupt individuals. Further, reports from the NLC indicate that there are increased instances of public school land grabbing have been reported by schools in Uasin Gishu.
Land-grabbing is an issue of great concern in Kenya especially among public utilities, it is therefore important for all stakeholders to take prompt action as a required to address the threats and challenges faced. County Governments have a key role to play in protecting public land from being grabbed this can be done by establishing frameworks in which they can engage with the National Government in ensuring that public utility land is not grabbed and is titled with the support of development partners and civil society organizations.
Surveying and titling alone will not address the challenges being faced in the protection of public utilities such as school land. It is therefore important that all stake holders continue engaging in discussions that will help them win the fight.Pupils, teachers and parents also play a positive role; through social mobilization which is an essential component.