Alarm as 652 expectant girls sit exam
Harriet James @harriet86jim
A total of 652 candidates gave birth during the 2020 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.
Of the 366,834 female candidates who sat for the national exam, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said 652 wrote the tests in hospitals after delivery compared to 282 in 2019.
Speaking during the release of 2020 KCSE exam results yesterday, the CS said Bungoma county topped the list of expectant girls with 43, followed by Meru (38), Nakuru (36), Kisii (36) while Nandi had 31.
He attributed the high number of cases to the long schools closure because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have noted that the number of cases of candidates sitting examinations upon delivery went up in 2020 showing that the long school closure due to Covid-19 pandemic may have driven our learners to many temptations at a time most households were facing enormous challenges.”
“As a Ministry, we will work with all the relevant Government departments to ensure that we focus on the worst hit counties to address the root cause of this perennial problem.
We will do this knowing only too well that addressing this menace requires a multi-sectoral approach.”
Prof Magoha urged parents to be at the forefront of guiding children as the temptations of society might overwhelm some.
“I wish to urge all parents and guardians to, more than ever before, offer the greatest support to our girlchild.
I particularly wish to call for greater support and protection for our learners who sat the 2020 KCPE examination and are expected to remain at home until July 26, 2021 when they will join Form One.
These learners require close supervision and guidance to protect them from the many temptations that come from evil men, who sexually prey on them.”
According to Tom Isaac Makisa, a reproductive health expert and also the founder of Welfare of Children and Youth in Kenya (WCY), the pandemic is to blame for the high number of teenage pregnancies.
“The lock down gave them an opportunity to explore all possible ways of staying engaged. Secondly, there were sexual predators such as teachers, parents and neighbours who violated rights of the young girls.
Last but not least, is the poor living conditions that have made our girls look for money to buy simple necessities such as sanitary pads,” he notes.
Poor living conditions
Venoranda Rebecca Kuboka, a sexual reproductive health expert as well as team leader Youth Changers Kenya expressed concern over lack of actual data on teen mothers in the country.
“As an organisation working in Kakamega, the numbers are worrying. Most of these cases are as a result of sexual violence.
Remember that a teenagers do not have capacity to give consent to engage in sex especially anyone below the age of 18,” she said.
In addition, Rebecca said most organisations working in the reproductive health sector have also been effected by the pandemic making it hard for them to provide information services to the young people.
“Lack of support from the government and parents and resistance by religious leaders are the main challenges hampering sexual education,” she says.
Human rights groups have urged the government to prioritise and fully fund sexual and reproductive health and rights education as part of the Covid-19 response plans.