FOREST CONSERVATION

15 closed Mau schools won't be reopened

Government has evicted 3,300 families and banned any activity in the forest.

In Summary
  • The government declared the schools illegal at the peak of evictions last year.
  • No family will be allowed to live in camps near the forest
Settlements at Maasai Mau forest
Settlements at Maasai Mau forest
Image: Gilbert Koech

The 15 schools built in the Mau Forest will not be reopened. 

Narok county commissioner Samuel Kimiti said on Thursday the schools, which were closed last October, were operating illegally.

He said they were not registered by the Education ministry.

The government has evicted 3,300 families and banned any activity in the forest.

Kimiti said no family will be allowed to live in camps near the forest or receive any compensation from the government. 

“The 10km cut-line must be maintained to avoid possible reinvasion of the forest. We will not allow anyone to buy land without the approval of the Lands Board as per the law,” he said in his office.

The government declared the 15 schools illegal at the peak of evictions last year.

In July 2018, the total number of learners was 4,681; it went down to 3,810 in December of the same year. In July 2019, the total population was 2,914.

All the 15 schools had four permanent classrooms, which were at different stages of completion.

A letter from Narok county director of education Philip Wambua dated September 2, 2019, showed that the schools had not applied for registration.

However, the management had inquired on what they needed to be considered for registration.

They could not be given land documents as they were inside gazetted forest land.

In the letter addressed to Early Learning and Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang, Wambua said the schools were set up in 2017 to cater to pupils whose parents had settled along the Mau Forest belt.

All the primary schools are in Narok South subcounty.

"Each of the 15 schools was attached to an already existing primary school, herein referred to as mentor school," Wambua said.

Kimiti said all the candidates who had been registered for the national exams were allowed to go ahead without any interruption.

“I personally supervised the candidates doing their exams. But we cannot allow the schools to continue operating as they sit on the forest land. We are yet to decide on how to utilise the school buildings,” Kimiti said.

He directed all chiefs to ensure all KCPE candidates, especially those who were evicted, enrol in secondary schools.

“There will be no excuse for not joining Form 1. The chiefs must ensure they have a record of all candidates who sat the KCPE [exam] and ensure they all join secondary or technical training centres,” Kimiti said.

The official invited government agencies willing to conserve the environment to plant trees in the forest.

After the expiry of a 60-day eviction notice early last month, the government officially launched a 10 million tree planting initiative to rehabilitate the water tower.

More than 500,000 tree seedlings have been planted manually and 4.5 million aerial seeds planted using helicopters.

Kenya Forest Service Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau said all the seedlings survived.

"I can confirm that [all] trees planted are doing well due to favourable weather conditions," he said on the phone. 

Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya