, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 29 – Over one million Kenyan children are currently out of school despite efforts by the government to provide Free Primary Education, according to the National Council for Children Services (NCCS).
The chairperson of the NCCS Hellen Waweru on Tuesday said poverty coupled with child labour and cultural practices were to blame for the worrying statistics as parents turned to their children to make a quick buck.
Ms Waweru added that 30 to 40 percent of children who completed their primary education did not proceed to high school.
“This is not the creation of government; it is the creation of other people. Let us stop engaging children in child labour which causes their delay and discontinuation in education. We need to stop mistreating the children,” she said.
The NCCS further revealed that approximately 900,000 children in the country were being used to provide cheap labour.
Ms Waweru, who applauded this year’s budgetary allocations for the needs of children, asked Kenyans to highlight the plight of children.
“We need to entice our children maybe with food so that they can stay in school and the law enforcers should join hands with ordinary citizens to ensure that all those who take advantage of children be it for economic gain or whatever are brought to justice,” she said.
On Saturday, four boys aged between 12 and 14 who were scouring for scrap metal in a pit in Mathare North were buried alive after it caved in on them. A kilo of scrap metal sells for Sh15.
One of the young boys who was supposed to be in school at the time told Capital News that his parents asked him to stay home because they did not have tuition money.
“I wanted to go to school but couldn’t because my mother told me not to go as she had no money. So I went to the pit,” said the 12 year-old boy.
Some of the parents interviewed by Capital News said they could not always afford to provide for their children and so encouraged them to fend for themselves.
“Most of us cannot support our families so what some of us do is send off the children so that they can go look for alternative sources of income. If a child gets Sh20 or Sh10, he or she will buy chips and eat. Such a child will not go back to the parents asking for food,” said a parent who works as a cobbler.
The secretary of the NCCS Ahmed Hussein also said that the organisation was developing a child protection system database to help monitor instances of child abuse.
“This year alone, the cases that have come to us on children who have been abused are over 90,000. This includes children who have been neglected; those whose parents have custody issues, those on the streets and those in conflict with the law,” he said.
The NCCS also revealed that Turkana, Kisii, Kuria and Northern Kenya were the hotspots for Female Genital Mutilation and early child marriages. Meru region was however commended for the declining instances of FGM and early marriages.