LAND USE AND MANAGEMENT
Public Land Management in Kenya
Case study research on the social, psychological, economic and institutional impacts of land-grabbing on school communities in Kenya.
Abridged Report: Schools at Risk: The Impact of Public School Land Grabbing in Kenya. Kenya Dialogs Project, Society for International Development.
- Executive Summary
- Institutional Framework
- Social Impacts
- Public school Land losses
- The Economic impacts
- Psychological Impact
- Institutional Impacts
- Defending Kenyan children’s right to education
- What is being done to protect public schools?
- What MUST we do now?
- Case Studies
This research[i] was undertaken as a follow up to the quantitative study released in January 2016 by the ShuleYangu Alliance (SY) on why schools continue to be at risk from land-grabbing.[ii] Using a case-study approach, it shares the experiences of 15 primary schools in ten counties and the social, psychological, economic and institutional impacts of land-grabbing on school communities and Kenya as a whole. The central question addressed was how the rampant and illegal appropriation of public lands, and particularly public primary school parcels, affects Kenya’s ability to fulfill children’s fundamental rights to education and to a conducive learning environment? With one of the worst performance scores for the land sector, Kenya ranks second in land corruption in East Africa. [iii] Formal national and county processes of land alienation (defined as the change of land use category from public land to private or community lands) and allocation (setting aside public or other lands for collective benefit or other public purposes) seem unable to prevent the illegal grabbing of public school lands.[iv] Systemic collusion of public officials and the concealed yet direct involvement of actors in the corporate, private, religious and NGO sectors conspire to keep all public schools at risk.
The now pervasive countrywide scramble for the public school land threatens Kenya’s progress in expanding national access to quality education across its 29,404 public primary and secondary schools. In just twenty months previous to the release of this report in January 2017, the Shuleyangu Alliance (SY) has been engaged in actions to stop fifteen school land-grabs. The passage of Kenya’s 2010 Constitution has provoked legislative reforms designed to make transparent the management and governance of public lands.
The 2015 Presidential directive to the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development (MLHUD) to title all public school lands focussed the nation on addressing the fact that most public schools remain largely without legal protection (title) or physical protection (fenced/well delimited perimeters). 22 months after the Presidential directive only close to 1,000 schools had been processed for lease certificates. This represents roughly 3.5% of all schools in the country. In this report, we provide a qualitative analysis of irregular land allocations, encroachment and the prioritization of private over public interests in 15 schools across ten counties. Semi-structured interviews, field observations, and document analysis reveal that the value of public lands being claimed by private actors, or the actual loss in public assets from these fifteen schools alone is KShs 750 million shillings. This is twice the amount that it cost for the former County Land Management Boards (CLMBs) to operate annually. Ironically, there are more title deeds issued to private interests than to the schools themselves. The disappearance of public schools is not only a potential risk, in at least one of the cases it has become a reality.
Critically, if the irregular claims over public lands are ultimately ruled in court in the grabbers’ favour, over half of the schools involved in the research will lose between 40% and 100% of their school grounds. The findings of this research suggested the need to take accelerated policy and administrative action from the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative branches of government at the highest levels possible. Specifically, urgent actions identified included:
- To immediately create a Ministry of Lands and Nacional Land Commission team to fully survey and proceed to title the 14 out of 15 school included in this review that are still lacking legal protection of their school grounds.
- Closer coordination between the Rapid Results Titling Taskforce, National Land Commission and ShuleYangu Alliance and other non-state stakeholders over the next 6 months;
- Full open access to all cadastral and other public land registry records (including green cards holding the records of public school lands) be shared by the Ministry of Lands with the National Land Commission;
- Digital cadastral files be shared publicly through the establishment of the Public Land Registry online Platform to allow all Kenyan citizens to have access to information on public lands and the public purposes they serve
- Take immediate steps to establish how to fill the institutional gap left by the dissolving of County Land Management Boards (CLMBs) or to re-establish them in support of protecting public utility lands;
- The Whistle Blower Bill be urgently enacted in order to protect courageous people standing up in the public interest from being subjected to intimidation and physical harm.
[i] This work was funded by the Kenya Dialogues Project at the Society for International Development (SID) for the ShuleYangu Alliance. It is based on empirical case study research carried out by Victoria Green, Dr. Alejandra Orozco, Banice Mburu, and Mirriam Ntegue and was written by Dr. Alejandra Orozco. Special thanks go to the Head Teachers of Naka (Nakuru), Maralal (Samburu), St Catherines (Nairobi), St. Brigids (Nairobi), Nairobi School (Nairobi), Lang’ata Primary (Nairobi), Mwamdudu (Kwale), Changamwe (Mombasa), Danicha (Kilifi), Yikisemei (Makueni), Tisya (Makueni), Mbacaca (Tharakanithi), Sumbeiyo (Uasin Gishu), Kimalel (Uasin Gishu), and Sitatunga (Trans Nzoia) schools, national and County State Officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development, National Land Commission and various school stakeholders involved who generously shared their time and knowledge for the successful conclusion of the research.
[ii] Shuleyangu Alliance (2016) One year after Lang’ata: why public schools are still at risk. Policy Brief February 4th, 2016. Available: http://www.shuleyangu.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SYSchoolsAtRiskPolicybrief.pdf
[iii] Transparency International Kenya 2014. The East African Bribery Index 2014, Available: http://www.tikenya.org/index.php/the-east-african-bribery-index
[iv] A recent September 2016 amendment to the land laws replaces the term alienation for “allocation” and defines it as “the legal process of granting rights to public land”.
As a most fundamental human right, ensuring and protecting every citizen’s access to education is enshrined in international treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Kenya is a signatory. This convention obligates the state to progressively realize economic and social rights and the rights of minorities and marginalized groups.
Public land grabbing violates two of the most important chapters in the Kenyan constitution. Chapter 4 enshrines the bill of rights, within which both access to education and to other social and economic services, for all Kenyans, are protected as fundamental rights. Chapter 5 states that all land in Kenya belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be held, used and managed in a manner that is fair for all. Constitutionally, land is to be governed within the principles of public accountability, the protection of land rights, ecological sustainability and equitable access among others. The state is charged with the duty of regulating all land in the interest of defence, public safety, health or any other land use for public purposes.
- To address this constitutional mandate, the vision of ensuring the right to education is being progressively resourced by various funding sources including Free Primary Education (FPE), the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF)
- Kenya’s publicly funded primary education is represented by a total of 21,718 schools1. Despite the number of schools and the progress achieved thus far in supplying basic education, public primary schools have nonetheless been increasingly challenged to fulfill their constitutional duty, not only because of their struggle with limited resources to ensure quality, but more prominently because all over the country school grounds are being seized by powerful and/or influential state and non-state actors.
Public lands can be legitimately alienated and converted into private land under Article 9 (2) a) of the Land Act (2012). The recent 2016 amendment to the land laws replaces the term alienation for “allocation” and defines it as “the legal process of granting rights to public land”. Despite terminological changes, article 12 (2) of the same Land Act states unequivocally, that public utility lands cannot be converted into private property if they have been reserved for education or other specific public purposes. This study demonstrates widespread abuse of this legal framework.
[i] Constitution of Kenya (2010) Chapters 4 and 5, Articles y Articles 19 to 63.
[ii] Constitution of Kenya (2010) Chapter 4 especially Article 53 (b), 43 (f) and 56 (b)
The greatest social impact posed by school land grabs is the elimination of the fundamental right all Kenyan children have to public compulsory education. Just within these fifteen educational institutions, the number of students whose fundamental human right to be educated are under threat is of over 11,000.
Although no less than 11 of the 15 schools involved in this study were established on public utility land, only Nairobi School, out of the fifteen, has a title deed. However, in direct contravention of the law, at least nine of the companies claiming ownership of school lands have been able to produce proof of ownership in the form of titles or another registration documents. Four of the schools have been established on lands purchased from and surrendered by individuals (Danicha in Kilifi and Tisya in Makueni), reallocated (Changamwe in Mombasa), or set aside by the community (Mwandudu in Kwale). In the particular case of Mwandudu the challenge being faced is double, as it not only affects the school beneficiaries, but also the sustainability of the community as a whole. In schools whose lands seem to have formerly been for other than public purposes, the issue of having secured title deeds is also extremely relevant.
In these schools, the lack of official surveys and titles is preventing them from stopping former land owners, surrounding neighbors, and even land officials knowledgeable of the schools’ tenure status, from reselling or de facto grabbing of the school lands. Significantly, it is title deeds, or the lack thereof, that make the ongoing and numerous claims made over public utility lands more substantial and problematic. In this regard, half of the schools involved in the research will lose or have already lost between 40% and 100% of their school grounds. The ease experienced by private interests to exhibit proof of ownership is diametrically opposed to the multiple difficulties schools face even just to access to green cards or related registries that could show the original purpose of lands. In some cases, this documentation seems to have simply disappeared. In no less than a third of the cases under review, encroachment has taking place despite the existence of documented boundaries.
Within this category a prominent case is Lang’ata Primary, which despite being completely delimited by various structures and a wall found itself having to demolish a perimeter wall enclosing the area the school relies upon for recreation and to fight a private title deed that shows as if part of the public utility land is actually a private property. Although known to have been established in public utility land and serving a population of 300 pupils, Sumbeiyo school, in Uasin Guishu, does not exist anymore and in its place there is a private development. In Nakuru, Naka Primary school has been removed from its original school ground and forced to relocate to an area 13 times smaller (0.75 acres).Meanwhile, in the school’s former grounds there is now a private development. In Nairobi, private companies have title to 70% of St. Catherine’s Primary School and recreational grounds. Meanwhile, the remaining 30% of the land where the school currently sits has high voltage cables running overhead and a sewage line below it.
On the whole, there are more title deeds for these public school lands issued to private actors than there are in the hands of the schools themselves. Critically, failure to ensure that all Kenyan children gain access to free quality education is a perfect recipe for social chaos. Ensuring that public schools have secure tenure on their land is part of ensuring children of all backgrounds have a right to quality education. The lack of secure land tenure of all public education institutions will surely widen inequality, deepen the poverty already pervasive in the country and deprive the country of drawing maximum benefit from citizens, its most important resource
Public school Land losses
The greatest social impact posed by school land grabs is the elimination of the fundamental right all Kenyan children have to public compulsory education. Just within these fifteen educational institutions, the number of students whose fundamental human right to be educated are under threat is of over 11,000.
Although no less than 11 of the 15 schools involved in this study were established on public utility land, only Nairobi School, out of the fifteen, has a title deed. However, in direct contravention of the law, at least nine of the companies claiming ownership of school lands have been able to produce proof of ownership in the form of titles or another registration documents.
Four of the schools have been established on lands purchased from and surrendered by individuals (Danicha in Kilifi and Tisya in Makueni), reallocated (Changamwe in Mombasa), or set aside by the community (Mwandudu in Kwale). In the particular case of Mwandudu the challenge being faced is double, as it not only affects the school beneficiaries, but also the sustainability of the community as a whole. In schools whose lands seem to have formerly been for other than public purposes, the issue of having secured title deeds is also extremely relevant. In these schools, the lack of official surveys and titles is preventing them from stopping former land owners, surrounding neighbours, and even land officials knowledgeable of the schools’ tenure status, from reselling or de facto grabbing of the school lands.
Significantly, it is title deeds, or the lack thereof, that make the ongoing and numerous claims made over public utility lands more substantial and problematic. In this regard, half of the schools involved in the research will lose or have already lost between 40% and 100% of their school grounds. The ease experienced by private interests to exhibit proof of ownership is diametrically opposed to the multiple difficulties schools face even just to access to green cards or related registries that could show the original purpose of lands. In some cases, this documentation seems to have simply disappeared.
In no less than a third of the cases under review, encroachment has taking place despite the existence of documented boundaries. Within this category a prominent case is Lang’ata Primary, which despite being completely delimited by various structures and a wall found itself having to demolish a perimeter wall enclosing the area the school relies upon for recreation and to fight a private title deed that shows as if part of the public utility land is actually a private property.
Although known to have been established in public utility land and serving a population of 300 pupils, Sumbeiyo school, in Uasin Guishu, does not exist anymore and in its place there is a private development. In Nakuru, Naka Primary school has been removed from its original school ground and forced to relocate to an area 13 times smaller (0.75 acres). Meanwhile, in the school’s former grounds there is now a private development. In Nairobi, private companies have title to 70% of St. Catherine’s Primary School and recreational grounds. Meanwhile, the remaining 30% of the land where the school currently sits has high voltage cables running overhead and a sewage line below it.
The Economic impacts
Public utility lands being currently contested in 14 of the schools represent a total of 105 acres. Differently priced in each county but largely of high market value, these public utility lands add up to a total value of approximately KShs 750 million or USD 7.4 million. Factually, this amount would be enough to cover the annual food fees for a total of 83,333 pupils in Nairobi’s Lang’ata area or the same fees for 833,333 pupils in Uasin Guishu. Ultimately, this is what the country as a whole will lose If government agencies and school communities are unable to fully restore those public school lands for public benefit.
Recently, the County Land Management Boards (CLMBs) were scrapped on the grounds that they cost the Government and ultimately, the Kenyan tax payer, KShs 400 million per year. However, the fact that the market price of grabbed lands in just 14 primary schools can duplicate the costs of having independent bodies to oversee and ensure integrity in land management and governance—at county levels in the whole country—calls for immediate institutional redress. Across the board, it has been recognized that the CLMBs were an important pillar in the fight to title and protect public land. As such, sound redress would require comprehensive legislative changes to either bring CLMBs back on board with stronger powers to fight land corruption, or to establish even stronger and more accountable structures that in partnership with the NLC and civil society could bring integrity in public land governance.
A recent judgment overruling an original decision in favour of Changamwe has plunged the school into distress and extreme confusion. Incumbent authorities initially allocated the school grounds to a private developer, but soon after reallocated the land for public education purposes. Having generated serious discontent, the case was moved to court which ruled that the land belonged to the school. Following up on this verdict, the NLC officially gazetted the cancellation of the developer’s title deed. However, soon after the developer sued the school board and the NLC – initiating a legal process that lasted for 4.5 years, the developer was successful in having the initial verdict overruled. In the second ruling on the case, the developer has been granted full rights to the school grounds. Having had late and indirect information on the second verdict, the school board lost the opportunity to appeal the ruling.
Meanwhile its pleas to the NLC and county authorities are yet to be responded to. As it currently stands, the school beneficiaries have officially lost their school ground and seem to be on their way to have much fewer, if any, chances of accessing to free compulsory public education. At Mwandudu, having to risk their life to gain physical access to the school has brought stress and fear to pupils and teachers alike. Established in 1966, Mwandudu Primary is a registered primary school. The land on which the school is situated, together with a large portion of the community that surrounds it are part of a 100-year-old parcel of leased land which the lessee never settled on or otherwise developed. A private company claims that the land has been allocated to them. In 2007, the community requested adjudication of the land on the basis of adverse possession. In 2009, the company started excavating around the school and surrounding area in an effort to evict the community. Excavations and the use of dynamite have disrupted the school operations, access to water and other essential activities.
The company’s activities have also created a public hazard from collapsed school and community buildings and cliffs generated by the excavations. This has, in turn, deteriorated pupils’ access to the school, as they are now forced to climb cliffs to get to school every day. This situation has left several pupils and a teacher with fractured and broken limbs as they attempted to navigate the excavated site to reach the school grounds. Despite a court injunction ordering further developments on the leased land to cease, consistent communication between county and national land and education agencies and promises to investigate the allocation, there has been no resolution to the dangers the school’s 1,300 pupils face on a daily basis. At Naka primary there is a great deal of sadness and confusion among parents, teachers and pupils, who after being removed from their original schools grounds, are faced with a 50% drop out, an overcrowded learning space and the inability to attract investment.
In the case of Naka’s highly priced school land, appealing to the courts has become the path for legitimizing the changing of public utility into private lands. In an unprecedented move, the judge acknowledged the possibility that the company’s title might have been fraudulently acquired and yet went ahead ruling in favour of the company. In Simbeiyo (Uasin Gishu), a puzzling and most impactful case at hand, former school beneficiaries have been plunged into extreme distress and hardship. After having demolished the school over two decades ago, 300 pupils were left behind. Despite reaching out to relevant authorities, the school community has been unable to recover the lands for public education, which are now in the hands of a private developer. Equally appalling is the level of distress and actual life threats teachers, parents and pupils had faced in schools like Mbacaca and St. Catherine. In these cases, school stakeholders have had to confront gangs and other groups and individuals acting on behalf of grabbers who harass and physically intimidate whoever stands on their way. Markedly, in all the schools under review stakeholders have had to struggle with various degrees of encroachment and/or land claims being made of their school grounds and yet only one, Nairobi school, has been able to expeditiously and successfully recover schools grounds for public education.
It comes as no surprise that school communities being challenged on their right to use public utility lands for public education purposes have had to deal with all the risks, stress and dangers mentioned above. Additionally, private actors’ claims over schools’ grounds also force the diversion of scarce financial resources for other than educational purposes, the up taking of teachers’ time for actions other than ensuring quality education, and engender a swelling sense of hopelessness and deteriorating trust in the state. The immense majority of schools were established over a decade ago, and yet in 14 of the cases the state has so far been unable to guarantee and protect, once and for all, the fundamental constitutional right to education of no less than 11,000 pupils. Concretely, these cases illustrate that a lack of a genuine and speedy solution to these–and numerous other cases–would undoubtedly signify that Kenya is on a path to progressively increase the number of land-related historical injustices.
With the enactment of the 2010 National Constitution, which emerged within a progressively enabling institutional environment that also included the, first of its kind, 2009 National Land Policy and the game-changing 2012 land laws, Kenya has taken decisive steps to change the way in which land is owned, managed and ultimately governed. It is this gradually evolving land governance framework that suggests the ongoing school land grabs documented in this policy brief have important legal and institutional implications. In this regard, Kenya has a fundamental legal and constitutional duty to protect the right to education and recreation of each and all one of its citizens.
Failure to protect and ensure delivery of such essential right undermines the constitution, but more importantly, it renders the state’s efforts to promote equity hopeless. What is more, it makes existing agencies institutionally enviable as protectors of human rights and liable to criminal prosecution and legal penalties from civil society and the country’s ethics and human rights monitoring bodies. As a signatory of international conventions protecting human rights, and especially the rights of the child, Kenya also faces significant international shame that could further discredit its institutional stand as a sovereign nation as well as jeopardize the state’s efforts towards ensuring equality and sustainable development of the country as a whole.
The challenge of defending Kenyan children’s right to education
The findings of this study suggest that there are overwhelming risks and difficulties being faced by both defenders of public school lands and unprotected public schools themselves whenever they step in to confront land grabbers. The first and most important danger and difficulty parents and teachers (and often pupils) face are physical intimidation, unfounded legal charges and actual life threats. This has been the case in schools like Mbacaca Primary, confronted with a 10 year old land grab that three different head teachers have been unable to solve due to the life threats and intimidation grabbers exhibit every time steps are taken to recover the land.
A similar situation was faced in Lang’ata Primary by pupils, parents, teachers and public land defenders who in the process of demolishing a private developer’s wall enclosing the school’s playgrounds found themselves being tear gassed by duty bearing authorities and even jailed. No less prominent have been the direct life threats made by a gang armed with machetes sent to intimidate St. Catherine’s teachers and parents, or the constant sense of fear Mwandudu’s pupils and teachers feel from the unpredictable actions from the company laying claims to the school grounds and beyond. In other schools such as Naka, intimidation aimed at discouraging teachers from recovering the already lost school grounds has involved multiple and unfounded public disturbance charges. In the case of Mwandudu, the accusations against teachers and community leaders have been escalated to the level of terrorism charges.
Notably, for the cases at hand even when school communities choose to stand before courts to find solutions to the irregular allocation of school grounds they often stand to lose the most. This is so because their financial and other resource constraints prevents them of accessing quality legal advice and representation and of successfully confronting the rain of suits they often face for standing for the rights of pupils. The second almost unsurmountable obstacle school communities must overcome is to gain support from overwhelmed or irresponsive duty bearing authorities. With over half of the schools under review squarely encountering this kind of unresponsive institutional environment, a few deserve special mention.
For St. Catherine, for example, 20 years have not been enough to find a resolution to the uptake of 70% of the school grounds, despite the head teacher’s innumerable efforts to reach and appeal to all level of government to protect the right to education and recreation of 1300 children from Nairobi’s slums. Sumbeiyo in (Uasin Guishu) where the community’s efforts to recover the public utility land and rebuild the school have persisted for over two decades, there has been no resolution nor concrete action on the part of the authorities.
Discernibly, for many of the cases at hand, Government laxity and or delayed action has provided a field of opportunities for land-grabbers. The third major problem is corruption and the collusion of county and national officials. Respondents from over half of the schools considered in this review indicated that they have experienced various forms of either corruption or collusion that have directly reduced or obstructed the resolution of their problems. The fourth is the risks involved in stopping land grabs through the courts. Inaction and corruption from government agencies has, moreover, brought more complex difficulties for school communities, as they are often forced to appeal to the courts to solve persistent claims over school grounds. The experience of school communities in turning to the courts has so far been fraught with danger and, to a great extent with failure, as it has legitimized, in the cases of Naka, Changamwe and Sumbeiyo, the transfer of public into private land.
Aware of the almost definitive elimination of the pupils’ right to public education the negative rulings have brought in these three cases, school stakeholders in St. Catherine and Mwandudu whose cases are now connected to the courts, are now pondering if the 2600 pupils they both serve will have the courts reaffirming or denying their right to use public utility lands for public education purposes. Manifestly, for the cases at hand, hiring legal representatives to fight accusations and to challenge the assumed legality of private title deed (which they themselves are yet to receive) is an overpowering challenge, and insufficient financial resources to operate, let alone to pay lawyers, their greatest burden. In this connection, the increasing number of law suits in which the NLC and members of school communities have become targets should worry us all.
What is being done to protect public schools?
On the part of School Communities School boards, head teachers, staff and pupils themselves deserve special mention, as they have been, in an admirable majority, stalwart defenders of the inalienable right to education. In addition to approaching relevant authorities at county and national levels, members of school communities have also risked their lives by directly confronting grabbers, demolishing and recovering grabbed spaces and advocating for lasting change.
The schools’ difficulties to access to most basic information on green cards and other school-related public documents held at county and national offices, as well as the slow speed of resolution to their often very old problems, points to the need to identify clear structures and mechanisms to ensure that they have access to information and to provide fast and effective responses to their perennial and emergent challenges. Importantly, the complexity of the issues being faced by schools in this review and the lethargy and cursory way with which these issues have been addressed so far indicate that protecting public land defenders, ensuring full access to information and enabling timely administrative action are critical.
On the Part of Statutory Agencies Recent reports (Dec 2016) from the National Land Commission confirm that there is some progress in protecting public school lands, but also that the process involving the auditing, verification and titling of public education institutions is a slow and lengthy one. Of a total of 3,200 applications for title received so far, 2,309 have been verified and of these 672 have been approved and deposited with the Treasury Cabinet Secretary.
|No. of applications so far confirmed -by the NLC to be in order||2305|
|Forwarded to the Treasury Cabinet Secretary||679|
|Received back by the NLC||672|
|No. of schools in rural areas with titles||243|
|No. of nursery schools and colleges with titles||178|
|No. of schools in process to transfer title||96|
|No. of titles showing land reserved for school but no school names available||76|
The NLC acknowledges that not all applications have been validated based on ground verification but rather through information provided on green cards. Green cards contain land registry records on location, leasing and allocation of the country’s land parcels. County officials confirm that the scarcity of human and financial resources and the repealing of the CLMBs has diminished the already limited capacity of the NLC to steadily verify and ensure the surveying and titling of all public schools. The decision by the Cabinet in October 2016 to waive all Government fees and costs for surveying public educational facilities is a game-changer in the struggle to universally title schools.
The policy decision was a recommendation in Shuleyangu’s January 2016 policy brief. It emerged from the Alliance’s understanding of the challenges public schools were experiencing. It is expected that this recently adopted policy will ease the financial burden of public schools in securing title of public utility lands. Accelerating the universal titling of schools, however, will also demand swifter and more coordinated actions between the MLHUD, the NLC, County Governments and non-state actors like the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya. The Rapid Results Title Deed Task force with representation from the MLHUD, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, County Governments, and the NLC that was also recommended by SY back in January 2016 represents another important policy achievement. However, the successful undertaking of titling of school land does demand that this task-force expands to involve civil society actors.
As recommended by SY, it is with the contributions towards and systematic monitoring efforts of civil society actors that steady progress in titling all public schools in the country can be achieved. SY’s direct effort to enlist the support of the Council of Governors in the agreement that is being developed between the MLHUD, the NLC and the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya to fast track the survey of all public school lands is another promising action that is expected to speed up the physical and legal protection of all public schools.
What we MUST do now
The array of difficulties school communities discussed in this review are going through, the state’s expressed commitment to protect public lands and public interests, and the NLC’s degree of capacity to confront old and emergent challenges in land management and governance, call for urgent steps: For MLHUD and the NLC to immediately assign officials to survey all the 14 schools included in this review that are lacking title deeds. The primary aim would be to fully recover all the school grounds already grabbed and/or being claimed through private titles, and to issue the 14 title deeds by the end of March 2017. The inclusion of civil society, and particularly of the Shuleyangu Alliance, in the recently established Rapid Results Titling Task-force. Civil society actors’ meaningful involvement will directly encourage accountability, as well as the efficiency of the task-force in titling schools.
- To fast track the signing of the surveillance agreement involving the MLHUD, the NLC and the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya. This agreement is absolutely essential to efficiently undertake the surveying of all public education institutions without title within a period of time that will not extend beyond the 2017 national election date.
- Equipping the County Governments and NLC to confront current challenges through providing full access to the country’s land registry and spatial data being managed by the Ministry of Lands. A county by county campaign must also be mounted with County Governments to ensure that schools are systematically brought under state protection.
- Fast tracking the establishment of the Public Land Registry online platform using the country’s cadastral data that is being managed by the Department of Surveys at the Ministry of Lands. This far-reaching action will enable progressively building transparency and integrity in the governance and management of public lands.
- For the executive and the legislative state powers to swiftly re-establish CLMBs or fill the institutional gap left by their dissolution. This action will provide solutions to the limited manpower, financial and technical capacity of county agencies and the NLC to thoroughly and effectively address the grabbing of public lands.
- The urgent enactment of the Whistle Blower Bill. We must protect the few courageous men and women standing up to safeguard public land from being subjected to human rights abuses, and a key tool to achieve this is the enactment of the Whistle Blowers Bill.
These seven steps will greatly expand the country’s collective capacity to protect public utility lands through a universal titling programme. In so doing, Kenya will also be able to deliver on its constitutional promise to fulfill the fundamental right to education and to safeguard current infrastructural assets for generations to come.
The research examined the risks faced by fifteen schools: Naka (Nakuru), Maralal (Samburu), St Catherines (Nairobi), St. Brigids (Nairobi), Nairobi School (Nairobi), Lang’ata Primary (Nairobi), Mwamdudu (Kwale), Changamwe (Mombasa), Danicha (Kilifi), Yikisemei (Makueni), Tisya (Makueni), Mbacaca (Tharakanithi), Sumbeiyo (Uasin Gishu), Kimalel (Uasin Gishu) and Sitatunga (Trans Zoia). All fifteen public schools provide free primary education to children from low-income families.
The findings were gathered through interviews, field observations, and document analysis. The research involved doing field visits to Nairobi, Muranga, Kilifi, Kwale, Trans Zoia, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Mombasa and Samburu. Nine semi-structured interviews were carried out with County level officials in land, education and quality assurance. Twelve head teachers and two NLC officials were also interviewed. Numerous members of school communities (boards of management and school parents) were also involved through semi-structured individual and group interviews, and group discussions.
Research Instruments Questions to head teachers and members of school communities:
- Name and location of the school Does the school have a letter of allotment?
- Does the school have a title deed? If yes above, when was the title deed acquired? If no above, has the school applied for title deed?
- Is the current acreage of the school the same as when the school was established?
- Have there been any attempts to grab the school land? When? By whom? How much land is/was involved? And what is the economic value?
- What do you consider are the social, economic other impacts of school land grabbing?
- Have you been engaged in any advocacy work towards securing school land?
- What are the key challenges being faced to more effectively prevent and address school land grabbing?
Questions to the NLC and members of county/national agencies
- Please provide statistical information on numbers of schools have been surveyed and tilted since the Presidential Directive in August 2015?
- How many new cases of school land grabbing have been reported and documented since January 2016?
- What measures have you taken to address the reports above?
- What are the key challenges you face to more effectively prevent and address school land grabbing?
- Are there concerted efforts between Ministry of Education and other relevant actors to address school land grabbing?