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20 city schools to be demolished

Twenty public schools are to be demolished because they are run-down.

The county’s move comes even as a new report warns that half the children in Nairobi slums are not benefiting from free primary education — because there are already too few schools.

The schools will be demolished in the next few weeks to pave way for better ones, said the County Executive Committee member for education, Christopher Khaemba.

He went on: “About 150 schools are in a dilapidated state. Twenty of them should be pulled down in the coming weeks to be built afresh in the next few weeks.”

Mathare primary school was one of those earmarked for demolition because it was in a terrible state, according to Mr Khaemba.

But the plan to bring down the 20 schools will further compound the situation for thousands of slum children in the city who are unable to benefit from the government-funded Free Primary Education programme because there are no schools to go to.

More than 200,000 children in Nairobi are out of school either because there are too few schools, or because their parents cannot pay the levies demanded by those that do exist, according to the report by Africa Population and Health Research Centre.

Slum parents find it hard to cater for schooling costs and pull their children out of class to pay for other needs, especially food.

The report states there is a shortage of schools in slums and “even when primary school is accessible and ‘‘free’’, other school-related costs such as textbooks, lunches, and uniforms represent a significant cost for the low income households.”

According to Janet Muthoni-Ouko of the Elimu Yetu Coalition, the parents have been forced to turn to informal schools that charge about Sh500.

But even there, children are regularly pulled out of school for long periods with parents unable to come up with the fee.

“Cost items are the biggest barrier to accessing free primary education in Kenya. Parents have to pay admission fees of about Sh2,500 in these schools and will be asked to bring a desk and they also have to buy other items like uniforms. You will find these children in the street begging or trying to make some money rather than being in school,” said Ms Muthoni-Ouko.

“Private schools in the slum are fee-based and when parents owe tuition or other fees, children are sent home until the bill is cleared,” added the report.

While agreeing with the findings, Mr Khaemba said that a taskforce to reform education was paying special attention to slums.