By EDITORIAL, published in DAILY NATION
The issuance of land titles to public schools could not have come at a more appropriate moment.
Public schools are under dire stress of losing land to the shadowy euphemistically called private developers, who are but plunderers of national resources.
At the start of the campaign, Lands Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi presented titles to 1,000 schools, cutting across 15 counties.
The grabbing of school land is prevalent. Lands ministry records show that 41 per cent of all the public schools are at risk of losing their land to private individuals.
In Nairobi, a report by a task force appointed by Governor Evans Kidero in 2014 showed that about 50 out of 200-plus primary schools had lost land to privateers.
Even more disturbing, the team established that school land had been grabbed by some religious groups, and some given out to politicians.
More dramatically, Nairobi’s Lang’ata Road Primary School was at the center of a highly publicised land grab that pitted the management against powerful individuals.
It took the protests of the little learners, their parents and the public to save the school’s land.
For a long time, it was assumed that school land was safe.
Nobody entertained the thought that some fellows could encroach on school property.
In rural areas, communities donated land for school development and the properties were respected.
In towns, authorities designated land for schools and kept the titles in trust.
Largely, schools do not have titles for their land because it was always assumed they were in safe custody of the authorities.
It is this lacuna and naïve trust that left schools exposed to greedy land operatives.
Besides the excision of land, other school properties such as staff houses, farms and canteens have also been taken over by private individuals.
These practices must stop. Not only are they illegal, but pose a serious security threat to learners and the institutions.
Prof Kaimenyi and his team must expedite titling of school land, while the Education ministry must get rid of business people and other individuals who have taken over institutional properties and assets.