Animated Social Gadget - Blogger And Wordpress Tips

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ban on holiday tuition sends mixed signals

By James Mwai

The ban on the August holiday tuition in Kenya in all primary and secondary schools by Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo has thrown the spanner to the works in the country. Learners have been left under a lead-heavy cloud of confusion after being turned away from schools when they went to open for tuition while the rest were forced to close their books after beginning the remedial classes. 

The performance on the up-coming KCPE and KCSE national examinations is hanging in the balance since it mostly rely on the August holiday tuition. The worst is even in the offing after a recent announcement by the giant Kenya National Teachers Union (KNUT) that there will be a nationwide teacher’s strike on 3rd September when schools are expected to resume for third term.

The declaration by the minister that the August remedial teaching famously referred to as tuition be terminated countrywide like any other illegal activity was received with mixed signals. It came as a hard blow to students and some parents who had been funding the exercise in the past. KNUT also did not welcome the move.

Students going home after Education Minister  banned holiday tuition
In Sipili area of Laikipia West District, students have arranged for private tuitions in several locations. Some gather in churches while others in homesteads. They have also hired tutors to facilitate the exercise. Currently, parents are willing to cater for these tuitions after noting that their children spend most of the time idling around. This has been instigated by lack of heavy manual work this season. 

Ng’arua Maarifa Centre has witnessed an influx of student population visiting the Centre to utilize its library services. Both primary and secondary school students come to the centre to study and borrow books. 

A vox pop conducted by Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) in the area revealed that many teachers are ready to distance themselves from any liability should the KCPE and KCSE performance be dismal. However, some students are expressing deep regret for registering for the national exams since they are not adequately prepared to undertake it. They were concerned that 3rd term is the shortest learning season in the Kenya schools calendar and they may not clear the syllabus which had been scheduled to be taken care of by the August holiday tuition.

Part of the reasons advanced by the minister for prohibiting the tuition is its use by teachers to cash on poor parents. He also argued that the recent unrest witnessed in schools are contributed by these tuition since students do not get enough time to rest after studying.

Schools are scheduled to open for third term on 3rd September, 2012.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Bumper bean harvest in Laikipia

By Patrick Wachiuri

Farmers in Laikipia are having a bumper bean harvest after waiting tirelessly for the last three months. Many families are busy harvesting, threshing and drying the legumes since the heavy rains subsided. However, the tragic part is the intervention of the brokers who are ready to milk farmers of their hard labour. Many are going all the way to the farms to buy produce from them at a relatively low price.

Currently, a kilogram of beans is retailing at Ksh.30 down from Ksh.70 three months ago. In spite of a good harvest this season, many farmers are pessimistic because of the prevailing market prices. Some have expressed their reservations and are contemplating storing them until prices stabilize. 

Most farmers had a good harvest this season compared to the last season. Peter Kimani 26 is a farmer who hails from Muhotetu Division. He had intercropped his 1acre maize farm with beans and realized 450kg of beans. Apparently he does not have immediate plans to dispose them but prefers to store until the next planting season when he will replant them to multiply his harvest. “It will be prudent for me to store my beans rather than sell them at throw away price to brokers. In any case I will need them in the next planting season and therefore do not see any need to sell them cheaply and buy them later expensively,” quipped Peter.
Noah Tarayia an Agro-economist Officer in Sipili Division is leading from the front. Having been posted to the area two years ago, he realized the need to establish farming as a business in the area to match his skills and be a good example to his subjects. He is among the proud farmers who are reaping the fruits of their labour this season. 

He leased a 2are farm and inter-cropped maize and beans and has managed to reap 8 bags of beans. According to him the favourable climatic conditions coupled with good farming practices has earned him the benefits. “I’m very happy with what I have harvested. This being the first time for me to cultivate in this place, I have indeed had a morale booster. I’m encouraged to continue with the activity and looking forward profoundly for bumper maize harvest. I will always farm as long as I work in this place,” said Taraiya. 

He encourages farmers to use modern farming methods to enable them get value for their money. He also notes that farmers need to understand the soil PH of their farms because the soil in the area has turned acidic and they still insist on using DAP fertilizers. There is need therefore to sensitise farmers on the importance of getting knowledge of the minerals present or lacking in their soil. Tarayia has been working closely with Ng’arua Maarifa Centre and urges farmers to visit the centre regularly to get the necessary information needed to improve their skills in farming.

Friday, 3 August 2012

CDF and well wishers come to the aid of Bondeni

By Dennis Kipkirui

After Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) highlighted the plight of pupils in Bondeni Primary School in Laikipia West District on 24th May2012, help trickled in quickly for the school. Leaders from different walks of life converged three weeks later to raise funds for the school which is located in the semi-arid areas of Kenya. On 15th June the old pupils raised Ksh.250,000 and later the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) donated a further Ksh.250,000. This saw the construction of two new permanent classrooms which are now complete.

On 26th July a further 1,050,000 was given to the school by the CDF to build more classrooms after they realized that the first donation built only two.

LRV posted a story indicating a looming disaster after heavy rains pounded the area and ripped off the roof and part of the wall. Since there was no other place where the pupils would learn, they had to learn under the precariously dangling roof supported by poles. Even with that state of affairs the pupils were expected to compete equally with their colleagues who come from the affluent society.
CDF officials became proactive after reading the story from the LRV blog which had drawn attention to many people especially political aspirants from the area. The general election being round the corner, the political class could not leave anything to chances. LRV had explicitly written that many pleas had been forwarded to CDF office to help the school but only turned a deaf ear on them.  The office has however given much attention has provided full support to the school.

On their part, the old pupils gathered and raised funds to have the school build permanent classrooms. From the onset it was evident that the school had produced prominent personalities working in different sectors. Priests came together with teachers, doctors, security officers and business merchants. Although the notice of raising funds was short, all of them spared time out of their busy schedules to come and aid their former learning hub out of the present woes. Most of them pitied the state of the school and said that despite their successes they have never had a forum which brings them together to facilitate the progress of their former school. They confessed that it was a big shame for them to enjoy the fruits of their success earned through the school and turn their backs on it. They said that they would not wish to have their friends and associates know the state of their former learning institution.

They were grateful to LRV for drawing to their attention on the plight of the school. “We are thankful to Laikipia Rural Voices for informing us on this issue. I was going through the blog and saw the story. I contacted one of my former school mates, and we began calling one another and the attention grew. We then saw the need to meet in the school and see what we can do to alleviate the calamity,” said Mr. Muya, a police officer who attended the school in the 80’s.

The school was started in 1979 with 265 pupils and 6 teachers and sits in an 8 acre piece of land.  After its inception it has had its fair share of problems. It took the intervention of the then area MP Godfrey Gitahi Kariuki (famously known as GG) to have eight semi-permanent classrooms constructed which have been in use until the recent calamity hit the school.

Bondeni stakeholders have had a myriad of challenges in their quest for better education.The hostile environmental conditions in this part of the country could not allow parents to have better learning facilities for their children. They had to go through thick and thin to fend for them and had nothing to spare for the school infrastructure. Poverty has taken toll of most homesteads. As fate would have it, wild animals in the neighbouring conservancies has scared off the pupils and would not turn up early enough for their lessons.

LRV acknowledges the contribution of all and sundry towards making the lives of pupils in Bondeni Primary School better.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Six recruits join KDF in Laikipia West

By Dennis Kipkirui 

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) conducted a recruitment exercise throughout the country from Monday. They expect to recruit 2200 servicemen. In the past the exercise had been marred by allegations of corruption and general discrimination. Conmen have often made a killing promising to secure vacancies in exchange for cash, a cycle the military is determined to break this time round. Last week KDF issued a warning against fraudsters ahead of the military’s national recruitment exercise that has kicked off. The exercise that is expected to run for 28 days will see 150 cadets, 25 specialists and 2200 military service men and women joining the country’s armed forces. 

Recruitment in Laikipia West District began early morning in Rumuruti town  led by Lt-Col Wafula. Over 2000 candidates turned up to be screened in the exercise that saw some of them recruited to join Kenya Armed Forces, Kenya Air Force and Kenya Navy. Frustrations, fatigue, tension and surprises characterized the exercise. Part of the screening involved physical fitness where candidates ran for 5km and thereafter underwent other tests that include medical check-up height and academic qualification. The selection was done based on the five divisions in the area. 
Kenya Defence Forces recruitment exercise

An interview with the candidates revealed that they had traveled a day earlier to the town to enable them turn up on time for the exercise. Most of them were optimistic that they were going to be selected to the country’s top security service. However, some expressed their reservations on the recruitment criteria with great contempt particularly on the age and height factor. KDF expects a new recruit to be 5ft tall and not more than 28 years. Candidates interviewed asked KDF to emulate the US which produces the best forces in the world yet they recruit short people who are up to 32 years of age. 

At the end of the exercise, a total of 6 candidates were recruited from the district. Five gentlemen and a lady were recruited from the three divisions of Sipili, Ol Moran and Rumuruti.

The country is engaged in military battle with Al-shabaab a dreaded militia in Somalia. This has seen the influx of recruits required by the forces this year. KDF has been in Somalia for over year in an operation dubbed operation linda nchi which has seen it drive away militia groups from their strongholds.

National Youth Service (NYS) will recruit youths to join it on Wednesday.