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.
Irregularly Allocated and/or Grabbed Public School Lands
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.
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