“We want our school, we want to study!” chanted dozens of primary schoolchildren as they dragged their desks and chairs onto a major road in Kenya’s capital Nairobi to protest their school’s demolition.
The Golf Course Academy was unexpectedly knocked down over the weekend following a land dispute.
Many parents who had already paid for their children’s tuition for the year were not given any prior warning. They joined their children who, dressed in their uniforms and holding their school bags, faced off a line of cars during peak rush hour.
The school’s headmistress, Doreen Musungu, told Kenyan news outlet, Capital FM Kenya, that the school was first granted the land in 2010. It sat on land that belonged to a church and although authorities told them to leave, they were not offered any warning of its demolition.
Students of Kenyatta Golf Course Academy, Nairobi block Mbagathi Road with their desks after their school was demolished pic.twitter.com/QXRW2GVZU9— Hussein Moulid (@WhoseinMoulid) May 15, 2017
“Yes the land is theirs but we want that they at least give us time and even notices because parents have started paying their school fees,” Musungu said. “Now we are in a fix because we didn’t have any notices.”
Teachers are concerned that the demolition means that they’ve lost their jobs, the news outlet reported.
This is not the first time a school in Kenya has been destroyed over property disputes.
In 2015, a school playground on public land was sold to a private developer. The schoolchildren who protested were met with clouds of tear gas. Several children were hurt by riot police during the action, and others were even hospitalized.
The disputes over land deeds ultimately come down to corrupt officials who have made it a habit of handing out several title deeds for the same property to rake in extra cash.
This corruption may cost schoolchildren their future, and add to the huge skills deficit among young people.
According to a 2012 UNESCO study, one million children are still out of school in Kenya. One in ten young people who never completed primary school, the study added, struggle to find well paid work.
But the young students of Kenya’s Golf Course Academy want the world to know that school is not out for them just yet.
“I like my class, I like study,” a young girl told Capital FM Kenya. “They removed our class and we want to study.”