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Research reveals that there is a strong tie between poverty and low enrolment in Kenya’s Schools. The introduction of free primary education in 2003 saw an increase in enrolment of 1.2 million pupils (Bold et al, 2010, p.293-94). However, this is not enough. Enrolment especially in Arid and Semi Arid areas in the country is significantly low.  Authors, (Michael et al , 2011) of the paper on “Access and quality in the Kenyan education system” observed that the introduction of free primary education notably promoted access to education but ancillary costs of education such as school uniforms, textbooks, sanitary towels for girls and distance to schools prevent many parents from investing in their children’s education. The authors further pointed out that provision of high quality education to all parts of Kenya remains a challenge.

A UKAID funded project is being implemented by a lead agency; Cordaid in partnership with Caritas Maralal and IIRR. The project targets 100 public primary schools in Samburu County and the main focus is on climate change mitigation and adaptation with a view of enhancing resilience and increasing access to education. A rapid assessment in 36 schools conducted by Caritas Maralal in June 2015, disclosed that in most schools students have to carry firewood to school and this clearly has a direct impact on the environment. The schools assessed reported that they incur a cost of about 10,000 to 30,000 Kenya shillings per month on fuel. To address this energy saving Jikos and additional domestic stoves have been installed in Ngilai, Baragoi, Lkuroto, Puraa, Lodungokwe, Sura Adoru, Shabaa, Muslim and Maralal Primary schools. Ten artisans from Samburu East, Central and North were identified and trained by experts on installation of the initial eight Institutional stoves. The artisans shall be engaged for the next 9 months to install additional stoves in 31 more schools in the entire county.

Teachers and Students of Sura Adoru Primary School outside their  Kitchen where we constructed an energy saving jiko of 250 litres and an additional domestic stove.

Teachers and Students of Sura Adoru Primary School outside their Kitchen where we installed an energy saving jiko of 250 litres and an additional domestic stove.

In July 2015, Cordaid, IIRR and Caritas Maralal conducted a baseline survey in Samburu East, North and Central. During the survey, it was observed that most public primary schools do not have fences. Some schools had weak and incomplete chain link fences. This raises a concern on the security of the boys and girls especially in boarding schools. Schools Like Marti Primary School have only one functional toilet serving 297 pupils, their kitchen has a worn out energy saving jiko and you could tell that a replacement was urgently needed before a cook got burnt in the process of using it.

One particular school that stood out in Samburu North is Latakweny Primary school located along the Baragoi- Latakweny road about 60 Kilometres from Baragoi town. The school stands on a 25 acre piece of land and has a total of 300 pupils. In most classes the floors are cracked and chipped. Classes have about six to eight wooden desks in them. Their kitchen is a temporary structure that evidently needs a replacement.  The Sub County Public Health officer in a letter to the school stipulated that “the school urgently needs to construct a kitchen and food stores that meet the public health standards as stipulated in Cap 254 Food, Drugs and chemical substance Act laws of Kenya”. Another school that stood out is Amaiya primary school the boarding facilities lacked mattresses and adequate beds. During our discussion with them on their needs, students and teachers in Nachola primary school pointed out that poor enrolment and absenteeism is attributed to poverty, some students lack basics such as uniforms and that results to absenteeism. There is an education policy stating that no child should miss school for lack of a uniform however,school uniforms are an entrenched part of schooling in Kenya which forces parents to keep their children away because they do not have uniforms. Another concern raised was that some students have to trek long distances to school which affects their concentration once they get to class. Most students in the schools assessed pointed out that they urgently needed text books to enable them complete their school assignments in time. They also pointed out that the school feeding program motivates the students to attend school and it’s one other factor that has contributed to increased enrolment and transition rates.

This is a classroom in Latakweny primary School in Samburu North

This is a classroom in Latakweny primary School in Samburu 

However there is a remarkable progress on the installation of solar systems in the schools by the government and other agencies working in Samburu County. Through funding from UKAID this project shall complement their efforts by installing solar panels in 25 Schools. Also through the Constituency Development Fund boarding facilities have been constructed in Marti and Sura Adoru primary schools but the facilities are not functional because they lack mattresses and beds. The project also has a provision for improving existing infrastructure to meet climate proofing standards.

This Project builds on the first phase that was implemented by IIRR in Samburu  East with funding from UKAID. A similar dormitory shall be constructed in one of the 100 target schools in the current Phase.

This Project builds on the first phase that was implemented by IIRR in Samburu East with funding from UKAID. A similar dormitory shall be constructed in one of the 100 target schools in the current Phase.

Following the needs assessment conducted in June 2015 and the baseline survey conducted in July 2015 in Samburu County’s public primary schools we shall share our findings with all actors to validate the findings of the survey, identify possible opportunities for partnership and also mobilize resources from the county government and other agencies. We hope that even after this project phases out in nine months the schools shall still continue to get the assistance that they really need from other actors.

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