NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 20 – Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has partnered with the Safaricom Foundation to boost voter education through the distribution of comics and fliers written in sheng (slang) to empower young Kenyans with information on the upcoming general election to Kenya’s 9.4 million primary school children.
Speaking during the launch of the campaign dubbed ‘Apisha Paro’, IEBC commissioner Yusuf Nzibo said the Sh14.2 million campaign to turn school children into peace ambassadors in the communities they live as they encourage their parents to commit to the promotion of a peaceful and participatory electoral process.
“There are some parents who are heavy hearted about certain issues, but all parents listen to their children when they are told that so and so’s father is conducting his politics in a peaceful manner, why can’t you do the same?” Nzibo posed.
He added: “That way we are emphasising that it is not necessary for the parent to take up arms and kill his neighbours just because they hold separate views.”
Speaking during the launch of the initiative at the Nairobi Primary School, Safaricom Foundation Chairman Joseph Ogutu was categorical that Kenya could not afford a repeat of the violence witnessed in Kenya during the last election.
“If the events of the last election taught us anything, it is that violence comes with a steep price tag which is unfortunately, always paid by the mwananchi. And one therefore hopes that, even if we do not listen to each other, we will listen to our children and secure their future,” said Ogutu.
Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo said the initiative is much more effective as it would reach all the 14 million registered voters, something that the police force which numbers 100,000 cannot guarantee.
“I want to request the 9.5 million students across the country including those in the secondary schools, before your father or mother or guardian signs your homework book let them take this oath,” said the Security PS.
The Ministry of Education in February 2008 said over 10 million learners at all education levels have been affected by Kenya’s post-election violence.
Karega Mutahi who was Education PS in 2007-2008 said that the violence had affected 1.7 million children in Early Childhood Education institutions, 8 million in primary, 1.1 million secondary schools, and 100,000 in tertiary institutions and 112,229 in universities.