In January of 2015, Kenya was woken to the ugly pictures of children being tear gassed, scared and screaming as they sought to protect their school’s playground from attempted land grabbing. The nation was angry, and the president was angrier, and in his anger, he made a far reaching, positive directive to the NLC “Title all Public Schools”
The directive was intended to protect public schools and hopefully prevent the nation from ever being exposed to such ugly images brought about by a greedy few. The wheels were put in motion and work began immediately. The incident was the proverbial can of worms, for it brought to light the gravity of the problem as far as public school land was concerned. An audit conducted by Shule Yangu Alliance and members of the Multi-Agency Task Force on school Titling that was gazetted to ensure that public schools get to be titled revealed that over 70% of public schools are not Titled. Of these there are 4,100 active cases of public schools at risk and with court cases.
The government agencies that are; NLC, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Lands and Physical planning, and EACC that were put to task to ensure public schools were titled also worked in a well-coordinated, highly effective system that has seen close to 10,000 schools titled and another 4,000 in the process. But this is as much as has been achieved. The task force had an expiration date of November 2019, but the work is far from being done. The agencies had also slowed, almost to a halt the process that had began on a high note; yet most of the schools are yet to be titled and still face the same risk of being encroached on or grabbed without the much-needed Title Deeds. Every passing day with untitled schools, boldens grabbers who have their eyes on untitled public schools.
While the good will in the government agencies tasked is still there, that is all there is to show for it. The Multi-Agency Task Force on School Titling charged with this accelerating titling of public schools was not assigned a budget or a secretariat to help coordinate the efforts like other task forces that have been put in place, which not only created confusion on how the task force is supposed to continue in executing the directive, but also hampered spirits.
In July 2019 year, during a public expenditure tracking survey Forum organized by Action 4 Transparency and held at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, it became apparent that public schools are at greater risk more than ever of land grabbing, especially during the school holidays when there is minimal human activity on school premises.
The government needs to not only pick pace on the momentum that began five years ago, but they need to institutionalize the process to ensure that there is a clear, open structure to Titling Public schools, even after individuals supporting the directive leave the office.
The Government institutions mandated with the directive also need to work with a sense of urgency to ensure that the process is 100% completed, which is achievable, by 2022 when President Uhuru vacates office.