SIX MONTHS-PLUS

Chiefs track down 600 truant pregnant girls, send them to school

They will receive special care and counselling before returning and while in school

In Summary

•Most girls expressed fears of stigmatisation and demoralisation but they will receive counseling before they return.

 •Officials said most of those traced so far are more than six months pregnant and will require special and delicate handling while in school.

Many schoolgirls get pregnant as they trade sex for sanitary towels, fear stigmatisation if they return to school/..
PREGNANT: Many schoolgirls get pregnant as they trade sex for sanitary towels, fear stigmatisation if they return to school/..
Image: FILE

More than 600 pregnant schoolgirls have already been traced by chiefs in the North Rift region and will be returned to school.

First, they will receive counselling as many expressed fears of stigmatisation and said returning would demoralise them.

They will need extra care, facilities and guidance.

The girls were traced at their homes in Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Trans Nzoia and Elgeyo Marakwet within the last week.

Officials said most of those so far traced are more than six months pregnant and will require delicate handling.

Uasin Gishu county commissioner Stephen Kihara said all the girls will be supported.

Schools reopened last week after nine months closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. About 90 per cent of learners have returned, North Rift officials said.

“As directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta , we are working with our chiefs and head teachers to ensure all children both in primary and secondary schools resume learning," Kihara said.

Governor Jackson Mandago says parents must also play their role by ensuring that they do not keep children at home regardless of the challenges they may be facing. He is chairman of the North Rift Economic Bloc.

Mandago visited some schools in Eldoret to distribute masks and assess the situation following the re-opening,

The Education ministry and county governments are tracing more than 30,000 children, girls and boys, who are yet to report to schools in eight counties in the North Rift region.

They are mostly girls who got pregnant since schools closed in March.

Counties in the region - including Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Turkana and Trans Nzoia - have recorded about 90 per cent return to schools.

PS for post-training and skills development Alfred Cheruiyot said they are working with the provincial administration and other stakeholders to ensure all the children go back to school,

"There should be no reason why a child should not go back to school this year," Cheruiyot said.

“So far, in most schools children have reported but we are teaming up as all stakeholders to ensure the few remaining are back in class as soon as possible. We must record 100 per cent return," he said.

Kihara said all chiefs and other senior officers had been directed to go to all homes and ensure all children are in schools.

In Nandi and Trans Nzoia most pregnant girls are yet to report back.

“Pregnancies among the schoolgirls remain a crisis we must tackle as a society so we do not lose an entire generation and lose progress in educating girls," Deputy Governor Yulita Mitei said.

She said pregnant girls and nursing mothers must be assisted to resume learning so their lives are not completely ruined if they drop out.

"As a county we are teaming up with the provincial administration and parents to ensure that we have all our children back in classes," she said.

(Edited by V. Graham)