Text books worth Sh9 m stolen in Trans Nzoia schools as two suspects are arrested
Written by Leonard Wamalwa
Read 576 Times
The Kitale OCPD Lucas Ogara with some of the recovered books in his hands as Paul Wachira looks on.[PHOTOS|Leonard Wamalwa| West FM]
Over fifty public schools in Trans Nzoia County have lost text books amounting to over Sh. 9 million to thieves in the last one year.
Trans Nzoia county director of education has revealed that the vice has been on an uptrend since mid last year.
Trans Nzoia West has the highest number of theft cases whereby 25 schools have lost books amounting to Sh. 3,725,918 while Trans Nzoia East has had 12 schools loosing books worth Sh. 2,845,564.
According to the director, Kwanza district has 14 schools loosing books worth Kshs1,281,185 stolen with the Kitale municipality having seven schools hit by the thieves who have taken away books amounting to Sh. 1,658,198.
Speaking at Mitoni Mitatu primary school after assessing the theft of the books that was the most recent on Saturday night alongside neighboring Nyabomo primary in Mabonde location of Trans Nzoia West district Wamocho called for immediate security intervention by the government and other stakeholders to curb the vice.
Wamocho at the same time pointed out that the government security agencies need to move fast to reach the republic of Southern Sudan and establish the ongoing claims that the books are destined for the country which is doing a similar syllabus to the Kenyan one.
"Unless as a country we look at where these books are going by having our security teams look at ways of reaching Southern Sudan which is said to be the destination of the books then the situation is going to be damaging to the education standards", the director noted.
However Wamocho pointed out the security lapse at the school level whereby the schools employ people with little or no security skills to man the institutions and in most cases the guards are elderly men who might not be sharp enough to respond to such raids.
The director affirmed that most of the schools are not in the right hands in terms of security a matter which he said the department is investigating to establish whether it is the hiring process that is the problem or the poor payments.
Some of the text books that were recovered by the police
"At the same time we have to beef up security in schools by maybe use of Kenya police reservists -KPRs because watchmen alone are not able to stop this vice because most of them are killed and books taken away", said Wamocho as he appealed for security support to schools.
He said that the situation has started to have dire effects on the learning in the county whereby the pupil-book ratio has risen terribly with one textbook being shared amongst ten or more pupils.
The officer pointed out that the situation is a major setback to the achievements that had earlier been achieved whereby the pupil-book ratio was at three pupils sharing one text book that has now declined greatly.
The situation is therefore supposed to be addressed by security personnel both at district and national level lest more damage might be executed at the expense of the education of the pupils.
However the ministry of education has urged the teachers in the targeted schools to employ short term measures whereby books are immediately dispatched to the pupils so that they are not left in lump sums in the schools to attract the thieves.
Even though he added that the move shall also put the books at risk of being destroyed at a fast rate bearing in mind that the handling of the pupils might not be good.
Investigations done by the education officers have revealed that there is possible collusion between the thieves and the schools administrators, committees and suppliers which the director said it is being investigated and an official report shall be released soon.
"In some of our investigations we are already noting that there is possible conspiracy between the schools administrators and the thieves whereby the administrators only join the bandwagon and claiming that books are lost", he said.
Meanwhile police in Kitale have arrested two suspects linked with the rampant thefts of the books in the area who were in possession of a consignment of some of the books from some schools that had lost books in the recent past.
Area police boss Lucas Ogara has confirmed that the two were arrested after members of the public tipped the police officers about their whereabouts and thus they were ambushed and are now in police custody as investigations go on.
"Today as we speak we managed to arrest two people with this consignment you are seeing here and we are still following leads to catch up with more culprits", the OCPD told reporters at Kitale police station.
He revealed that the two had revealed a big cartel that has networks in other major towns including Nakuru, Nairobi and Muranga whereby they are said to work in conjunction with the local people to identify the schools to be raided.
"Their operations are like they do coordinate with our people from our area here and the moment they identify a weaker school without proper security checks they come with their gadgets which include a master key and padlock cutter to execute their mission", Ogara said.
He has appealed to the members of the public to continue volunteering valuable information to the police and other security agencies to assist bring to book all the perpetrators implicated in the syndicate.
The suspects had assorted things recovered in their custody including 300 text books bearing rubber stamps of some of the schools that had reported the thefts recently including Nyabomo, Matisi and Mitonimitatu primary schools.
The recovered books included, two pairs of strong scissors used to cut padlocks and metallic grills, several padlocks, crates of bread in which they use to pack the books and two bicycles believed to be used to ferry the books to the place where they are eventually packed on vehicles for their destination.