ISSUE 101, September 1-30, 2014
LOOKING AT MDGs
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Girl child under siege in Meru County By Titus Murithi Millennium Development Goal Two remains a challenge that will not be met if girls fail to complete school. The goal seeks to ensure achievement of universal primary education with a target to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. However, while both boys and girls face challenges towards completing primary education, girls are disproportionately affected. Girls are most like not to finish school, when they are forced to take on extra family responsibilities as well as due to early and forced marriages. They are also affected by early and unwanted pregnancies. This is the case of 13 girls from the same primary school in Meru County who have dropped out school having been impregnated by local village men who lure them with cash and edible goodies like cakes and soda. The school, located in the far flung part of Meru County bordering Meru National Park ,is in a dilapidated state with some of it classrooms literally having no walls and pupils study in very unfriendly conditions. The school boasts of only two modern classrooms which were built courtesy of the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility to communities near them.
According to Henry Maingi Arimi, head teacher at Mwomwere Primary School in Igembe Central said 13 out of 181 girls have been impregnated and have dropped out of school. “This year alone, I have lost 13 girls to pregnancies. They
Toddlers enjoy their holiday classes with volunteer teachers in some Counties. Children remain in danger., Photo Odhiambo Orlale. have dropped out of school and three of them have been married by the culprits. It is a pathetic situation because it means their chances of getting formal education and earning a decent living are greatly reduced now,” said Arimi. He said the affected girls were between Class 5 and 8. “Most of the girls end up not getting married and become desolate around the villages. The 13 girls I have lost this year were
in between Class 5 and Class 8 but there are many more that are impregnated and drop out of other schools in Igembe Central,” Arimi explained. He termed the matter as a serious crisis facing the whole of Nguyuyu Location, Kanjoo Division. Arimi noted that he was losing many young girls to pregnancies at an alarming rate and appealed to leaders in the constituency as well as the government to come to their rescue.
“This is a big crisis in Nguyuyu Location and the whole of Kanjoo Division. I have been losing many young girls to pregnancies at an alarming rate and I appeal to leaders in both county and national government to come to the rescue of school going girls,” said Arimi. He observed that some local village men deceive the girls with little money and
edibles and they fall for these goodies due to abject poverty. He regretted that the girl’s parents are not helping the matter in any way as they hardly advise their children about sexuality. Arimi said that out of the 35 girls who were to sit Kenya Certificate of Primary Education last year, only 19 did the examinations. He noted that the situation is worse this year because he start-
ed with 21 girls who were to sit the examination, but now 17 of them including the 13 who are pregnant are out of school.
“Most of the girls end up not getting married and become desolate around the villages.”
Conflict in Northern Kenya a barrier to achieving education goals By Malachi Motano Over a decade ago the world governments rolled out education for all programme at a conference in Dakar-Senegal that was backed up in Millennium Development Goal two. It is now less than a year to the 15 year period that was set to see education play a role to reducing poverty in Africa through the Millennium Development Goals. The big question remains, what has Kenya achieved? Or should United Nations forget about 2015 because education for all is still many years away?
There is no one better to explain this than John Lengoine, a head teacher at Kametusa, a community primary school in Samburu County. This is a school that was built by parents in the area. Although it was started 11 years ago, it has never recorded steady growth due to inadequate facilities. Since they have not registered the school with the Ministry of Education, the national Government has not post-
ed any teachers there. It also has not benefited from the free primary education programme. Lengoine is a class eight dropout from Webera, the nearest primary in Isiolo town, some 54 kilometres away. He is a member of the Parents Teachers Association by virtue of being “a bit enlightened and schooled near the town”. In the same area 28 year old Francis Wamalwa is the acting assistant chief. “We are a pastoralist community and our sons normally help us move with our animals as the girls remain with their mothers taking care of the homes,” explains Wamalwa. He adds: “We only send our children to Kametusa Primary School to go and learn how to read and write. Going to school does not help us much compared to our animals which we give a lot of our attention.” According to the Ministry of Education, Kenya has made big strides in most of the six goals supporting education for all. “The gross enrolment rate for early childhood care and education stood at 60.9 per cent in 2010, which was a marked improvement from 57.9
per cent in 2005, while primary school’s net enrolment rate increased from 82.9 per in 2005 to 91.4 per cent in 2010. The gender parity index increased from 0.94 in 2007 to 1.02 in 2010.” Other statistics from the ministry shows that secondary enrolment rate also improved from 28.8 per cent in 2005 to 47.8 per cent in 2010. Adult education in 2010 stood at 266,200 surpassing the projected target by 37,319, while the most vulnerable children stood at 325,000 against the projected target of 728,000 as enrolment in special schools increased from 91,770 in 2005 to 221,995 in 2009. The transition rates improved from primary to secondary from 56 per cent in 2005 to 72 per cent in 2010.
As Kenya celebrates the improvement of increased enrolment in primary and secondary schools, it remains a pipe dream for communities in the arid and semi-arid regions like Samburu County. Apart from not valuing education, continuous migration (pastoralism),
inadequate learning facilities, poor infrastructure, constant conflict have also challenged the achievement of the Education For All 2015 goal According to the Education For All global monitoring report released by UNESCO in Nairobi, armed conflict is robbing 28 million innocent children of an education by exposing them to widespread early marriages, rape and other sexual violence, targeted attacks on schools and other human rights abuses. The report, The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education cautions that the world is not on track to achieve by 2015 the six Educations for All goals that over 160 countries signed up to in 2000. Although there has been progress in many areas, most of the goals will be missed by a wide margin — especially in regions driven by conflict. According to Mohamed Elmi, a former Minister for the Development of Northern Kenya: “Northern Kenya is no stranger to violence. At any given time a school somewhere in this region will be closed as a result of armed conflict. And long after the conflict has
ended, its impact may still be felt. To cite just one example, the Turbi massacre in Marsabit in 2005 left nearly 100 people dead. More than 6,000 people were displaced by the violence, 1200 of whom were children. Eleven primary schools in the area were affected. Twenty-two of the dead were children at Turbi Primary School, who were killed just before starting their morning class.” Elmi regrets the loss of innocent lives on such a large scale saying it was heart-breaking and was further compounded by the trauma which surviving friends, students and teachers of those children still feel today. Elmi says that in the recent past, conflict in Somalia has spilled over the borders to Kenya. Indeed, for decades now Kenya has hosted large refugee populations from Somalia, Sudan and other countries in Africa. Dadaab, near Garissa, is one of the largest refugee camps in the world. Its population has more than doubled over the years. As a result, an education system that was designed to provide for 30,000 children is now struggling to provide for double that number.
The Reject Online is a monthly publication of the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman & Child Feature Service