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Kenya seeks Interpol to trace stolen books from schools

18 June 2012, 09:15 Joy Monday

Interpol has been invited by Kenya to track down text books worth 5 million stolen in a series of robberies in schools in Trans-Nzoia County.

There has been rowing protest from local leaders led by Cherangany MP Mr. Joshua Kuttuny over police laxity to curb violet robbery of the books.

Trans-Nzoia County Director of Education Mr. Joseph Wamocho announced that the government has invited Interpol to probe the thefts of the books. Over 20 schools have been attacked and books stolen.

“We want the Interpol to track down the perpetrators. The education of the children in the county is at stake,” Wamocho revealed at Kitale.
In what is suspected to be a highly coordinated syndicate, the stolen books are shipped to South Sudan where sources said are on high demand. School managements told reporters.

despite the fact that the text books are stamped and coded, they have become the target of the robbery syndicate. Wamocho said the robberies witnessed at local schools are alarming and has sabotaged learning in the affected schools.

“The thefts are worrying and the spirit of Free Primary Education FPE is on its knees in the region. We are reaching out the Interpol to assist unearth the scam,” said the official.

The official said his department is liaising with the local district security agencies to provide armed officers to guard all schools.
“The schools have become vulnerable to robberies because they are guarded by unarmed watchmen. We want armed officers deployed in these institutions,’ he disclosed.

He said has summoned for meetings with school managements to discuss insecurity in schools possible measure to contain the situation. The meeting, he said would also deliberate the low enrolment in most schools in the county attributed to rampant child abuse.

Atleast more than 20 schools in Kwanza district have been broken into and books stolen in the past months with the consignment transported and sold to schools in Kapoeta County in South Sudan. Two watchmen have lost their lives during the robberies staged at Goseta and Marinda primary schools respectively.
There were two thefts at Goseta primary school. Some of the schools broke into are Kapkoi, Kees, Ndalala, Kapomboi, Zea and Gesarate. Others are Mesa, Mukuyuni, Soimining.Bwayi, Malam and Kees secondary school.

The attack has spread to Trans-Nzoia West district with Birunda and Sikulu becoming the latest institutions of the thefts.
The deputy head of Goseta primary school, Mr. Enock Omonya said the watchman Isaac Omose was attacked and killed by the robbers armed with crude weapons before they stole the books after breaking the library room.

“We discovered the body of the watchman in a pool of blood in one of the classrooms. The schools lost book worth sh 260,000 and police visited and recorded statements,’ said Omwonya. The robbers, he said target course books which are on high demand in schools in South Sudan.
Omwonya said the third robbery attempt was repulsed by three watchmen deployed to guard the school. “We have been forced to hire three watchmen to protect the school after we lost a watchman and text books and the parents are to dig deeper into their pockets to pay watchmen,” he said. The newly born country has copied and implementing the Kenyan syllabus attracting the individuals out to make quick money.

 A visit to affected schools discovered that most children are suffering due to lack of reading materials following the thefts.
 “The poverty level here is high and parents have challenges to support the education of their children and the books purchased by government were helpful,” she added.

 Mr. Kimani Njoroge the Kwanza Deputy Education chief, confirmed there is crisis at the affected school and that teachers have been advised to distribute books to learners to evade the thefts.

Source said that there is high connections between book dealers in Kenya and South Sudan.  “Some corrupt dealers in Kitale and Lokichoggio have traced lucrative market for the books in South Sudan,” the source said. Speaking in Kitale, Kuttuny warned that the robbery would compromise the education in the county and censured police of doing little to seize those responsible.

“How can robberies take place in more than 20 schools without police arresting any suspect?  Let the government intervene because the robbery pose a threat to learning,” said the lawmaker.

 Kitale police Chief Lucas Ogara said investigations were on over the theft but no arrest has been made. “Investigations are on but we have not made any arrests,” said the official.

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