Moi Masol Primary School in Pokot Central Sub County has been rehabilitated by National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) at a cost of Sh. 27.5 million provided by the European Union to ensure children in the disadvantaged area within West Pokot County remain in school during hardship period.
This includes restoration and equipping of 10 classrooms with desks, construction and equipping of a 100-capacity girls’ dormitory with beds, mattresses and bedding.
Other components are upgrading of the school borehole from hand pump to a solar-driven system, installation of solar power infrastructure and erection of a perimeter fence around the five acre compound.
The West Pokot county government also chipped in with Sh13 million in upgrading of the school located in the jungle to modern standards, a move that residents noted has motivated them to take their children.
The school which had been vandalized and closed down for some years due to insecurity in neighbouring Pokot and Turkana communities was reopened when the guns went silent two years.
Speaking during the commissioning of the classrooms and dormitories on Friday, Devolution and ASALs Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa challenged parents to take advantage of the facility and enroll their children for schooling.
“While this initiative is noble, this facility will only count if you bring your children to school and allow them to remain. I am aware that enrollment is currently low compared to the pre-Covid-19 period,” said Wamalwa.
The CS noted that while drought is a national concern, its direct impacts are most severe in arid and semi-arid regions where they lead to low school attendance and retention.
Recurrent droughts in Masol Ward force households to move in search of pasture and water for their livestock, resulting in high cases of school dropouts and truancy.
“When drought sets in, families here often migrate with their livestock to Turkana County and Uganda in search of pasture and water. Unfortunately, school-age children, especially boys accompany them and abandon learning altogether,” added the CS urging the community to support the school that was established by former President Daniel arap Moi recapture its fame.
The CS said phase two of refurbishing the school which entails upgrading a boys’ dormitory will be completed just as the girls’ one so as to create a stable learning environment for the pupils.
“The National Irrigation Board is working to ensure Amolem Irrigation Scheme works to enhance food security which has been a threat in this area,” Wamalwa clarified saying that West Pokot has the potential of agricultural success through irrigation.
Meanwhile the Devolution CS and key partners in the project urged the border communities in West Pokot and Turkana counties to embrace peace and live in harmony so that their children can enjoy their right to education.
Wamalwa observed that insecurity had crippled development activities along the border of the two counties, lauding reformed warriors for their good gesture of abandoning cattle rustling for peace.
“It is a historic moment today to witness young men attending this event and vowing to support the government in its efforts of maintaining peace. I am happy that instead of them taking away livestock they are giving me a gift of a goat and dancing for peace,” posed Wamalwa.
He appealed to the two communities to embrace each so as to reap benefits from the state and non-state partners calling for abandonment of harmful cultural practices among them female genital mutilation, early marriages and cattle rustling.
The CS described the community as one having people with the potential of producing the best brains in the country mentioning that several children from the area have proved to the world in excelling in academics despite the hardships.
“A boy from this region broke an academic record once set at Chewoyet National School by my late brother Wamalwa Kijana which had gone for decades without being broken. This is a gesture that with keen interest in education this community can produce better people in future,” said Wamalwa.
He urged residents to desist from politicizing projects being initiated by donors and non-state development partners saying the area needs more empowerment so that children can enjoy access to essential services.
The rehabilitated school is expected to build long-term resilience to drought by providing a conducive learning environment for pupils and ensuring retention rate is high even during droughts.
Since the institution serves Lobokat Ward in the neighbouring Turkana South Sub-County, the institution will enhance a peaceful co-existence between Pokot and Turkana communities living in the border catchment area.
Residents appealed to concerned authorities to consider making the school a low cost full boarding institution so that many children can have access to uninterrupted education.
“With security issues now settled, a major challenge within this area is lack of food which forces many children to drop out of school. As we talk now most families are starving. Enrollments always increase whenever the government provides food rations to this institution hence let the programme be consistent,” said a resident.
The NDMA also donated more than 2,200 packets of sanitary towels to the school and the neighbouring Masol Mixed Secondary School as part of corporate social responsibility and to further complement efforts to retain the girl-child in school.
by Richard Muhambe