Thousands out of school amid fears of mass drop-outs
What you need to know:
- Boys, on the other hand, are involved in various forms of child labour.
- Over 150 children, including 20 Class Eight pupils, are reportedly pregnant in Tana Delta Sub-County.
- But the situation is worse in Nandi County, where 6,006 girls in the school-going age are pregnant.
- Education officers and teachers in Bomet and Kericho counties were Tuesday compiling data of learners who have not reported to school.
Thousands of learners in Coast region have failed to resume their studies following the reopening of schools on Monday, raising fears of a mass dropout.
Education officials and administrators collecting statistics on the cases in Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa and Taita Taveta counties said the majority are girls who are either pregnant or were married off.
Boys, on the other hand, are involved in various forms of child labour as others marry or undergo cultural rites of passage, including circumcision.
More than 150 children, including 20 Class Eight pupils, are reportedly pregnant in Tana Delta Sub-County, according to Moving The Goal Post, an organisation advocating for the rights of the girl-child.
Project coordinator Esther Baya said the NGO’s officials are moving house to house to urge young girls to return to school.
“Due to poverty, parents are forcing their young girls into prostitution, something we need to stop. The parents are also to blame since they do not support local administration in tracing the perpetrators,” she said.
School girls exposed
Salama Location chief Peter Jillo echoed Ms Baya’s sentiments, saying parents have abdicated their duties hence exposing young girls.
“We have discovered that some of those who are absent are girls who are pregnant while some boys have become boda boda riders, which we do not condone,” Rare Primary School headteacher Caleb Otieno said.
But the situation is worse in Nandi County, where 6,006 girls in the school-going age are pregnant.
According to county health executive Ruth Koech, 289 girls aged between 10 and 14 years became pregnant between January and September, while another 5,717 aged between 15 and 19 got pregnant during the same period.
Emgwen Sub-county had 1,522 cases, Tindiret 1,134, Aldai 998, Mosop 947, Nandi Hills 793 and Chesumei 612 girls.
“We have made it very clear that all pregnant girls, whom we estimate to be about 1, 500 countrywide, resume classes as we continue reopening and where the deadline for full resumption is November 2,” said Education Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia.
Last week, county commissioners instructed chiefs and their assistants to collect data of girls who may be pregnant and make sure they return to school.
The chiefs have also been instructed to arrest parents who may have married off their underage children and also the men who have married them.
Nyandarua County Director of Education Nelson Sifuna has instructed teachers to trace and establish the whereabouts of the learners who are yet to join classes, which he put at 10 per cent.
“We have cases of early marriages and pregnancies but we shall follow up those implicated or married to the girls. They must complete their education. I am expecting a comprehensive report and data by Wednesday afternoon,” he said.
In Baringo County, more than 6,000 boys from the minority Ilchamus community will miss the first days of the term since they are in month-long seclusion, having undergone circumcision rites a week ago.
Education officers and teachers in Bomet and Kericho counties were Tuesday compiling data of learners who have not reported to school. Mr Mabale Ndiatsi, the Bomet County director of education said officers had been dispatched to schools to verify the data and compile reports on reopening of the institutions.
“As of Monday evening, 80 per cent of the students had reported to the institutions and I am made to understand some of them checked in this morning. I should be able to get you the correct statistics at end of the day,” he said.
Samburu North Sub-county director of education, Hussein Gufu, said they are yet to determine the number of learners missing amid fears of banditry attacks.
The headteacher of Manyatta Primary School in Marsabit County, Seyd Hirbo, attributed the low turn out to fears held by parents over possible mass Covid-19 infections in learning institutions.
In June, there was outrage after it was reported that about 4,000 girls aged below 19 years had become pregnant in Machakos County since the beginning of the year.
Reports by Tom Matoke, Barnabas Bii, Sammy Lutta, Flora Koech, Onyango K’Onyango, Gerald Bwisa, Brian Ojamaa, Mwangi Muiruri, James Murimi, Jacob Walter, Reginah Kinogu, Waikwa Maina, John Njoroge and Geoffrey Ondiki, Maureen Ongala, Stephen Oduor, Kalume Kazungu, Shaban Makokha, Derick Luvega, George Odiwuor, Vitalis Kimutai and Ian Byron