A programme in Meru County that seeks to rehabilitate street children and equip them with skills has been hailed as transformative, with other devolved units being urged to emulate the initiative.
Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia said the Meru Youth Service (MYS) programme will address youth unemployment and solve the problem of street families.
“We have a problem of youth unemployment and street families in all towns across the country and devolved units should lead in addressing these challenges. Rather than looking at the youth as a ‘time bomb’ waiting to explode, we should look at them as opportunities to develop our country,” Mr Kinuthia said.
He spoke last week during a pass-out parade for 150 former street children at the MYS training centre in Egoji, Imenti South, where he was the chief guest.
The youths were recruited in a special intake through a partnership with a Catholic priest, Fr Barnabas Mugambi, and were trained on various skills after rehabilitation.
Mr Kinuthia said the ministry will pay fees for 11 of them at the Meru National Polytechnic to undertake various courses.
“The 11 youths will receive Sh30,000 each which will be paid to the institution and Sh40,000 from the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb). This is the ministry’s commitment to this important programme,” Mr Kinuthia said.
“When I see these youths who were formally in the streets and have now been rehabilitated and empowered with various skills, I see hope. I see a generation that will be saved from the challenges of unemployment,” he added.
Governor Kiraitu Murungi said all the 150 youths will be given part-time jobs in various projects across the county to ensure that they do not relapse to their old ways in the streets.
“We will engage some of them full time in painting and face lifting of all government premises including dispensaries, polytechnics and administration blocks across the county,” the governor said.
Children under 18 years will be enrolled in school until they complete their education, according to Fr Mugambi.
“So far we have rehabilitated 326 youths and we are looking for a partnership with anyone willing to sponsor 200 more. Our objective is to ensure that by 2023, there are no street families in towns across the county,” said Fr Mugambi.