, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – When Patrick Sayianka moved to Oldonyo-Nyokie Primary School in Magadi, he didn’t know his job as a head teacher would be so intricate.
He was astonished to see girls enroll in big numbers in lower classes but disappear as they got closer to standard eight.
By the time they sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination, Sayianka was thunderstruck.
There were only 2 girls in a class of 16 candidates in the year 2008.
This is the time he knew his role has to be more than managing the school calendar and teaching.
He had to bring back the girls to school.
“The girls were disappearing in upper classes. I knew it was of FGM and the girls were being married,” he recalled to Capital FM News.
“I realised myself giving in because I saw some very young girls of even 12 years suffering. I felt a lot of pain because I am also a father of a daughter and I felt if I let these ones go just because they are not mine, what about tomorrow, what about my girl – supposing she gets a similar problem, will I be able to cry,” he worried.
Like a father determined to save dozens of his daughters from a dangerous cultural practice, Sayinka put his foot down and vowed to bring back every girl who had dropped out of his school.
He was prepared to dialogue with their parents and even pick up a legal battle for the sake of his students.
“I have to ensure girls complete standard eight. Those who get married- we have to move in and rescue them, we have to report to the chief. Those who get pregnant we follow them up and once they give birth we bring them back to school because if we let her go, she will definitely not come back, she will be married off.”
A man so passionately dedicated to save the girls has looked for all possible ways of ensuring girls get education. He pushed for the construction of a dormitory to ensure girls at risk of FGM stay in school.
Subsequently, he realised those girls needed to be empowered with skills that can help them protect themselves from a community deeply entrenched in a culture of FGM.
“Before they go home we talk with the girls those who have undergone and those who have not. We talk to them in the dormitory and we encourage them to live together and ensure they are not frustrated.”
“We bring resource persons from the dispensaries, from AMREF and role models from within the community especially those at the university level.”
Sayinka has left open channels of communication to ensure girls always get help whenever they need.