Fashionable, pregnant teenager leaning on a textured silver wall. [iStockphoto]

Teenage pregnancies and early marriages are still robbing young girls of their rights to a decent future within the pastoral community in Kajiado County.

Kibe Njenga head teacher at Ilngaroj Primary School in Kajiado County said a big percentage of school girls are still abandoning education for marriage.

Njenga said they are still dealing with a low population of girls due to early marriages and teenage pregnancies.

“In our school here, we have had a very big challenge. When the girls reach 14, (around Grade Five and Six), they get circumcised. And when they do, they never come back to school,” said Njenga.

He was speaking when the school hosted a delegation from the Kenswed Organisation.

“I hope we could change the practice, and have the children get to Grade Eight and then join secondary schools,” he added.

Njenga described as acute,  the tradition of marrying off the girls while still very young, adding that some concerned individuals and organisations have come on board to help fight the injustices.

“The girls are married off as young as 14, which presents a very big challenge to us. We once had a girl married off early. We followed up since I wanted her to return to class after birth. About two years later, we were shocked to learn that she was pregnant again. We gave up,” said Njenga.

Kasper Scarrie, project manager at Zelmerlow Bjorkman Foundation, one of the sponsors at Kenswed Organisation, said they expect their efforts to significantly reduce, if not eradicate, teenage pregnancies and early marriages through education.

“The key here is education. Education about their rights as well as education on the rights to their bodies,” said Kasper.

Kasper said they are not targeting the pupils only but also the parents, teachers and staff members at the various institutions they visit.

“If we educate one child, we will have taught the community. If we teach the youth, we will have secured their future and that of generations to come,” he said.

In addition, Kasper said their quest to promote good oral hygiene in the region continues.

“There is a huge problem with flourosis and in addition to being a medical condition, it also affects their self-esteem,” he said.

Kenswed community oral health officer, Damaris Odulwa, said they are targeting to have oral health clubs in schools in the future.

We have given the talks and demonstrations and we are glad that the children are very responsive. We also noticed that they are hungry for this kind of information,” said Odulwa.

“Some of them have not been talked to about any kind of hygiene and we feel that reaching out to such schools in the interior is a great incentive to the children,” added Odulwa