By Our Reporter
Kajiado Westis a sparsely populated area inhabited by nomadic clans from the Maasai community that live in temporary settlements of either mud or twig walled huts known as manyattaInkajijik (houses).
Schools in the area are few and far between, mainly because of the sparse population and the scarcity of resources like water and either poor or total lack of infrastructure.
Because of the difficult living conditions in the dome shaped houses, Maasai children in areas like Mosiro location of Kajiado West Sub County cannot study from home.
Some especially boys end up looking after their parents large herds of livestock in faraway fields where they help morans to herd sheep as the elders take care of hundreds of cattle that roam the open Mosiro ranches.
Local leaders like Chief Solomon Sagilu have however ensured that many children especially girls are protected from early marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
In 2018, Sagilu was feted for his anti-FGM campaign in Kajiado West, after he arrested four people and took them to court for endangering the lives of young girls and making them drop out of school.
“Youth are key to solving many problems facing us here in Mosiro and indeed across Maasai land but that can only happen if we ensure that they remain in schools and also get good quality education,” said Sagilu at Oldepetadingcentre in Mosiro.
To ensure that children are retained in schools, local leaders have ensured that enough food is supplied for the school feeding programme that has been identified as a key pillar in the retention of children in schools.
Because of the challenges day scholars encounter in their homes, almost all primary school in the area also provide boarding facilities to ensure that vulnerable pupils, especially girls stay indormitories or resident hostels.
The learners, especiallygirls only go home during vacations and live under the care of teachers and matrons although some pupils attend classes in school and return to their homes in the evening.
But they are all provided lunch at school through the school feeding programme funded for by the government and private partners, most of them Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
“Day school is much cheaper than boarding schools because food is expensive but we are lucky because many NGOs, but parents also spend more on food when they’re at home,” said Chief Sagilu.
Most schools in Kajiado West Sub County, especially in Mosiro Ward are inaccessible becaue of the bad roads in the area.
To get supplies like books and other learning materials, head teachers have to organize their own transport, mostly motorcycle taxis known as Bodabodato reach the Narok – Nairobi highway.
From either Ntulele or Duka Moja on the Narok – Mai Mahiu road, they then use public transport to Nairobi from where they connect to the Kisamis Sub County office, through Rongai and Kiserian to pick the supplies.
Kajiado County Director of Education Kangogo Chebet says: “That area is very difficult and because the Sub County office does not have vehicles, field officers and head-teachers have to come for the supplies.”
It is impossible to reach Mosiro, an area prone to mudslides and flash floods that create huge gulleys on roads and makes it impossible for pupils to cross water gushing through lagas during rainy seasons.
Chebet gave an example of late last year, when they had to use helicopters to deliver examination papers to all primary and secondary schools in Mosiro because roads were impassable.
“We asked for help from the Ministry and the Kenya National Examinations Council to help us deliver the papers and get them back because it could have been impossible to deliver, secure, supervise and collect the papers,” said Chebet.
It has also been very difficult for county education officials to go and meet learners, teachers and other stakeholders in that area.
Officers, including Chebet, the man tasked with the management and supervision of all schools in Kajiado County have failed to reach the area for routine assessment of learning activities.
“I tried to get their twice through Kona Baridi and Kisamis but the road became so narrow and winding with the vehicle at times hanging precariously on cliffs forcing us to abort the journey and come back,” said Chebet.
The education boss is however optimistic that efforts will be made to improve infrastructure in the area, so that services can reach residents and create access to quality education.
Local leaders say the last time roads were paved in the area, was the late Prof George Saitoti was the area MP before Narok West was curved out of the larger Narok North constituency.
Businessmen at Oldepe trading Centre in Mosiro blamed the leadership of Kajiado West MP George Sunkuya and his Narok East counterparty Ken Aramat alias Kiloku for the poor state of roads in the area.
“We don’t have water for children in schools, although NGOs have constructed storage tanks for harvesting when it rains but children use dirty water from pans during drought,” said by Daniel Koikai.
Responding to the criticism, the area CDF office however said they have spent money putting up administration blocks at Kibiko, Inkilorit and Inyonyoriprimary schools and classrooms at Naromoru, Olpirikata, Sanareand Olteyani Primary Schools.
Other CDF projects cited includeconstruction of pit latrines at Elangata-wuas, a chain link at IndupaPrimary school grounds, construction of teacher’s quarters at Komiya and an administration blockNewakase.
The County Director of Education also said despite the difficulties, Kajiado County has been performing very well in national examinations.
Critics however, said top schools are mostly private academies based inRongai, Kitengela, Isinya, Kiserian, Kajiado and Ngong, allNairobi satellite towns where parents pay a lot of money for fees that poor rural Maasai cannot afford.
The rural nomadic parents will continue depending on relief food to keep their children in schools, because they don’t have electricity, water and other basic needs intheir circular or loaf-shaped houses that are made by women.
Unfortunately, some young children in the villages continue dropping out of school to herd and protect their parents in the fields and at night from wild animals.