State intensifies hunt for missing learners
The crackdown on learners who have deserted school intensified yesterday with a high-powered Cabinet delegation visiting a rural primary school in Kajiado to assess the situation.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha led his seven colleagues to Oloolua Primary School in Ngong town, one of the biggest in the country, to assess the progress of re-opening and adherence to health protocols on Covid-19.
The Cabinet Secretaries were keen to establish whether all learners have reported back, as part of building synergies to ensure successful resumption of learning in public institutions.
At Oloolua, the CSs who included Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Amina Mohamed (Sports), Simon Chelugui (Labour), James Macharia (Transport), Keriako Tobiko (Environment), Adan Mohamed (East African Community) and Najib Balala (Tourism), encountered two girls in Classes Seven and Eight who had reported back to school while pregnant, signaling the government’s determination to track down and ensure every learner pregnant or otherwise, report back to school.
“We are going to schools and working with our teachers to ensure children are going to school and that this works well,” said Prof Magoha.
“You can see I have mobilised my colleagues, including the Chairman, Matiang’i, to come to this school.
It means it is special. It is among the heavily populated schools in the country with over 2,700 children.”
Magoha also said Sh19 billion capitation funds have already hit public secondary and primary schools’ accounts.
On Wednesday, the government launched a massive countrywide crackdown on learners who have not reported back to school.
Chiefs and their assistant are under strict instructions to round up learners in their jurisdictions and ensure they are taken to school.
Matiang’i, under whose docket the enforcement of the crackdown falls, toured Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties to assess progress of the back to school programme on Wednesday.
In Narok, hundreds of pupils and students have not reported back to school. A spot check indicated some girls were married off during the nine-month break.
On the other hand, boys were recruited to moranism while others married and are now taking care of their young families.
Village elders in areas bordering the Kenya-Tanzania border said some crossed over to neighbouring country to look after cattle and to join their relatives, making it hard for local administration to locate them and bring them back to school.
“It will be difficult to locate them because they crossed into Tanzania to look for jobs and to join their relatives.
But it is still early to rule them out of learning because we are pursuing them,” said Joseph Saroiwua, the Olmesutie assistant chief.
In Kakamega, chiefs and police officers conducted a major crackdown at homes and arrested dozens of parents whose children had failed to report back.
“In my sub-location, I got more than 15 learners who were still at home and arrested them with their parents and guardians,” said Sandro Munari, Assistant Chief of Shiseso Sublocation in Ikolomani.
Kakamega County Commissioner Pauline Dola said they had information that some parents were still holding their school-going children at home.
Elsewhere, Central Regional Commissioner Wilfred Nyawanga said he had mobilised the provincial administration to ensure about five per cent of students who have not yet reported to school are traced.
Speaking when he accompanied Principal Secretaries Nicholas Muraguri (Lands) and Prof Fred Segor (Tourism) for a tour of schools in Nyandarua, Nyawanga said Central Region has recorded 95 per cent resumption of learners.
In Kisumu, At least 40 per cent of learners are yet to report back. Out the numbers, 25 per cent are from various secondary schools while 15 per cent are from primary.
County commissioner Josephine Ouko said a crackdown is ongoing to find the whereabouts of the missing learners.
Reporting by Irene Githinji, Peter Leshan, Dennis Lumiti, David Macharia, Noven Owiti