Education advocates urge for policy reforms to spur quality learning in Bungoma

Advocates say teenage pregnancies, HIV, and FGM are some of the factors derailing quality education in the county

In Summary
  • At the celebration held at St. Mathews ACK Secondary School in Webuye, Bungoma County on Friday, Laura Doresi, the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) coordinator, emphasized the critical need for county-level educational policies to enhance learning outcomes.
  • The county coordinator said according to the data from the Ministry of Health in the last five years Bungoma has had more than 12,000 teenage pregnancies noting that in 2018, the county recorded over 22,000 cases.
Eunice Imbwenya, the County’s director for Education and Vocation Training (VTC) handing over sanitary towels to students at St. Mathews ACK Secondary in Webuye on June,14,2024.
Eunice Imbwenya, the County’s director for Education and Vocation Training (VTC) handing over sanitary towels to students at St. Mathews ACK Secondary in Webuye on June,14,2024.
Image: TONY WAFULA

As the world marks the Day of the African Child, education advocates from the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) have called attention to significant barriers to education in Bungoma County, citing the lack of relevant policies and the “triple threat”— teenage pregnancies, HIV, and female genital mutilation (FGM).

At the celebration held at St. Mathews ACK Secondary School in Webuye, Bungoma County on Friday, Laura Doresi, the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) coordinator, emphasized the critical need for county-level educational policies to enhance learning outcomes.

Doresi argues that education is a devolved function and there is a need for the county to support it fully.

She attributed demoralising KCPE and KCSE results registered by Bungoma schools in the last national examinations to weak strategies by the county to ensure that every learner is accessing quality education.

“As we celebrate this Day of the African Child, we know that for us to fully support our children we need relevant policies and regulatory framework to be able to support the implementation of various Education activities,” she said.

Additionally, Doresi highlighted that pre-primary education, school feeding, and vocational training are some of the important policies that the county needs to develop.

Emphasizing the need for Bungoma to have the above-named policies, Doresi also decried high numbers of teenage pregnancies, HIV, and Female Genital Mutilation as other factors largely contributing to low access to education.

“Bungoma is surrounded by all factors that contribute to the poor performance in national examinations,” she said.

Laura Doresi, the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) coordinator
Laura Doresi, the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) coordinator
Image: TONY WAFULA

As a remedy to reducing rampant teenage pregnancy cases, Doresi said the Forum for African Women Educationalists (Fawe) with other partners is implementing various projects in 20 counties to curb the vices.

She says the project dubbed ‘Imarisha Msichana’ has various interventions targeting teenage girls and returning back-to-school teen mothers.

Doresi, in addition, reported that FAWE has partnered with schools in the region where they have established ‘Tuseme clubs’ in schools that give opportunities to the girls to share the challenges they go through during the menstrual cycle.

“Apart from having girls' engagements we also engage the boys because we believe that empowered boys can support the girl child,” she said.

Milsane Kiplai, the County’s Adolescent Sexual reproductive health, gender-based violence and early childhood development coordinator, said that as a county they value the girl child’s contribution saying it is the reason why the county has partnered with other actors to ensure that teen mums return to school.

Kiplai also reported that the county has brought in partners who are ensuring that the girls who cannot go back to school are allowed to join TVETs or given capital to take up income-generating activities to transform them into useful members of the community.

“We would like to see a community where a girl child stands out, is empowered and able to make decisions regarding their lives,” she said.

The county coordinator said according to the data from the Ministry of Health in the last five years Bungoma has had more than 12,000 teenage pregnancies noting that in 2018, the county recorded over 22,000 cases.

In 2023, the expert revealed that the county had above 12,000 teenage pregnancy cases.

John Mukenya, an advocacy officer at Bungoma County Children’s Rights Network (BCCRN), said that the Day of the African Child is an important day in the calendar of children in Africa to remember what happened in Soweto, South Africa where children resisted the Apartheid regime that imposed Afrikaan as the official language for teaching in schools.

The advocacy officer added that the Day of the African Child is an opportunity for children in Africa to agitate for quality education, noting that this year’s theme: Education for all African Children.

However, Mukenya applauded the government’s efforts for committing to fully support education by accepting to address the infrastructural challenges, sponsoring them in terms of bursaries and scholarships, access to sanitary towels and menstrual hygiene at large.

“We do not want to leave any child behind as access to Education is concerned,” he said.

He implored the parents to support the government in ensuring that children are accessing quality Education.

Eunice Imbwenya, the county’s director for Education and Vocation Training (VTC), confirmed that Bungoma does not have relevant policies to support Education saying that they still depend on the national government’s policies on access, retention and transition.

Further, Imbwenya said that last year, Bungoma hit headlines with a high number of teenage pregnancies affirming that the county has released capitation to VTCs to accommodate all who dropped out of school.

“We have embraced competency-based education and training (CBET), these are short courses offered at the will of the person who would wish to get them,” she said.

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