Outrage as more than half a million Kenyan children aged 6-7 years are out of school

                                  Teacher helping student at computer terminal with students in background

chair and a table in a classroom

The Ministry of Education on Tuesday raised alarm over 852,000 children aged between six and seven years, who do not go to school.

Habat Abdi, the Director of Primary Education at the Ministry of Education said Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Turkana, West Pokot, Isiolo, Marsabit, Tana River and Nairobi have the highest number of children out of school. Mandera has the highest number at 124,000, which is 15 percent of children out of school.

“Turkana, Garissa, and Wajir have 10 percent, 8.9 percent and 6.7 percent respectively,” said Abdi.

He was speaking during the second day of the 14th Kenya Primary Heads Association conference at Sheikh Zayed Centre in Mombasa.

Abdi said a third of the 852,000 out of school children are those living with disabilities. Others are girls from extremely poor households, children with un-cooperating parents and children who drop out of school due to sickness and indiscipline cases.

To resolve this problem, Abdi said, there is a need to urge parents to start taking their children to school early. He said children who join Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) are likely to enroll in primary education. “In these centers, children get adequate nourishment and psychological stimulation, thereby being able to learn. They are well prepared for school,” he added.

He also called for alternative learning programmes which include non-formal education, mobile schools in nomadic communities, multi-grades system, and Madrassa centers.

“In non-formal education, learners are allowed to do their home chores during the day and come to learn in the evening after regular children have left. The Lechukuti pastoralists school in Samburu is a good example, where programmes run from 5 pm to 8 pm. During the day, they are allowed to go herd cattle,” said Abdi.

For mobile schools, migrating parents are allowed to enroll to the new schools for the time they will be in a new site and in the multi-grading system, a single room can be used to accommodate several classes and one teacher is in charge of them all.

He said in North Eastern region, communities are predominantly Muslim. Therefore, the government should deploy teachers at the Madrassa centers available at the nearby mosques to teach formal education.He said those children with disabilities should be taken to schools which have already mainstreamed special needs education and those with extreme or severe conditions should enroll in existing special schools.

This article was first posted on the Capital News website.

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