Head Teachers Accuse State of Failing to Provide Tree Seedlings for 15 Billion Trees Initiative

The initiative to grow 15 billion trees over the next decade has faced resistance from head teachers due to a lack of resources.

Western head teachers have accused the state of failing to provide tree seedlings. One head teacher, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, stated that they were expected to participate in the exercise but lacked a budget.

Yesterday, the heads of Western schools were required to attend a mandatory online meeting for tree planting. Each student is required to plant three trees under the drive by Friday.

School heads must log in to the National Education Management Information System (Nemis) Elimu Tree Planting platform with their school Nemis username and password and upload the data on the number of trees planted by their schools.

According to instructions from the education ministry, all heads of private and public primary and secondary schools must fully participate.

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However, sourcing seedlings remains a challenge for many school heads. Education officials instructed schools to acquire tree seedlings before Friday, encouraging head teachers to seek seedlings from community-based organizations, sponsors, and well-wishers.

The directive emphasized that the tree planting should extend beyond the school to the community, as well as that the exercise is a presidential directive.

During the meeting, the Environment and Education ministries will jointly integrate the Jaza Miti app with the Elimu app to enhance the recording and reporting of tree-growing activities by learning institutions.

On Tuesday, Acting Conservation Secretary George Tarus urged school heads to work closely with their respective ministries and collaborate with Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries.

On April 2, Environment CS Soipan Tuya and Education CS Ezekiel Machogu co-chaired an inter-ministerial meeting to collaborate on planting 15 billion trees. The program identified the Ministry of Education as a key driver, with its 17 million learners and 600,000 educators.

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Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang stated that the Environment Ministry would ensure the timely provision of 15,000 kg of tree seedlings annually to meet the Education Ministry’s target of producing 300 million seedlings per year.

The Environment Ministry, through the Kenya Forest Service and the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, will provide technical support for seedling production and tree growing, including site-species matching.

The two ministries will develop a coordination framework for county and sub-county levels and jointly create an award scheme to recognize the best-performing educational institutions.

The 15 billion tree planting program is part of a government climate action initiative within the 10-year National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Strategy.

It aims to increase Kenya’s tree cover by 30 percent by 2032, restoring 10.6 million hectares of degraded ecosystems and landscapes across 11 intervention areas.

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Kipsang noted significant progress since the program’s launch over a year ago, including the development of the National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Strategy 2023–32, the construction of 11 new seed centers, the distribution of 100 tonnes of seeds, the establishment of the 15 billion tree planting campaign secretariat, the development of Forest Adoption and Tree Growing Incentive Frameworks, and the recording of 300 million seedlings on the Jaza Miti app.

Additionally, the two ministries will design communication and awareness campaigns. Last year, the program culminated with the planting of a record 150 million trees on National Tree Growing Day, Kenya’s first green holiday, on November 13.

Tuya stated that her ministry has set targets for each ministry, department, and agency in terms of their contributions, noting the Education Ministry’s extensive numbers and networks across the country.

Machogu promised to help mobilize resources for tree-growing initiatives during the event.

Head Teachers Accuse State of Failing to Provide Tree Seedlings for 15 Billion Trees Initiative

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