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Outrage as city NGO takes custody of 21 needy pupils

Twenty one children have been withdrawn from a school in Nyeri and taken to the premises of a Nairobi-based NGO, sparking protests from leaders and parents.

The children aged between 10 and 16 were taken away by an organisation whose mandate is “to assist children from needy families” two weeks ago.

Nine pupils drawn from Warazo Jet Primary School and the other 12 from Mere Primary School in Kieni were enrolled into the programme, discontinuing their classes at their schools.

CRISIS MEETING

During a crisis meeting held at Mere Primary School on Friday, parents said they were duped into handing over their children in the hope of getting a scholarship. They did not sign any documents or get a letter of transfer from Nyeri schools.

During the meeting, they said they were unable to access their children since they were taken to Nairobi. One of the guardians, Mr Joseph Ngari, said he had not seen his nephew and niece for the last two weeks.

“When I came home and did not find my deceased sister’s children, I asked my mother where they were. She told me they had been taken to Nairobi but she did not know exactly where, they had been taken to,” he said.

Mere Primary School board chairman Joseph Nguthiru said the institution, which had lost 12 pupils, was not involved in the transfer.

ORAL CONSENT

“The parents just gave oral consent after pledges that their children would be educated up to university,” he added.

According to Mr Nguthiru, the headmaster had not issued transfer letters to the children and the area chief had not been notified. The dispute has sucked in area MP Kanini Kega and County education executive Erastus Muriuki, who termed the incident as unfortunate.

“People pretending to be sponsors are taking away our children to unknown places. What further funding do they need, if primary education is free,” he said.

However, according to Mr Vincent Bwire, the director of Anointed Nursery, Youth Centre and High School where the pupils are currently staying, the institution educates children from poor backgrounds.

“We were told that the children had been evicted from the forest and their education was thus discontinued,” he said.

ENROLLED IN SCHOOLS

The institution located in Kariobangi, Nairobi, denied having knowledge that the pupils were already enrolled in public schools.

“We called the parents to confirm that they had given consent, and some have visited,” he said.

Ms Beatrice Githinji, who facilitated the children’s transport to Nairobi, said the parents gave consent. “I do not work with schools. I only inform the villagers of opportunities and they are free to take part,” she said.

Kieni East OCPD Michael Mbaluku said police were working on taking the children back.