Chiefs go door to door in search of missing learners

Learners are today trooping back to schools for the second week after braving a week-long trial of new norms.

In the new week, it is hoped learners who had kept off schools last week will go back as chiefs enforce a directive from Ministry of Interior to find those still at home.

School managers also continue to grapple with new realities of learners reporting without school fees, the requisite Covid-19 mitigation gear of masks and hand sanitizers.

They also have to contend with limited space in classrooms.

“Every learner should go back to school first. If it is an issue with school fees, let no one remain at home because that should remain the headache of the government and parents but not learners,” Interior CS Fred Matiang’i (pictured) said over the weekend while inspecting the re-opening at Nyambaria Boys in Manga, Nyamira.

The CS found that 61 boys were missing from the school. He tasked education stakeholders and provincial administration officers to look for them.

He also asked benefactors to close ranks with the government and parents to ensure learners are not held back because of fees.

He said he would lead from the front by personally sponsoring a number of needy students.

“Let the children be in school first and as the government, we will handle the rest. Let us give peace of mind to our children to study.

“We are now working at the grassroots to ensure that all our learners are in school and there is nothing bothering their quest for education,” he said.

He was in the company of Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, County Commissioner Amos Mariba, Kitutu Masaba MP Shadrack Mose and Nyamira Woman MP Jerusha Momanyi.

Political angle

However, on Saturday, at a burial in Mbooni, Ruto’s supporters took on Matiang’i, asking him to walk the talk.

“Before government can tell all learners to go back to school, let them provide the school fees with the BBI monies. When chiefs go looking for learners stuck at home, let them go with maskd and sanitizers,” former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama said.

In Meru, County Commissioner Allan Macharia has announced that fifteen percent of school children are yet to report back.

“Teachers are to provide the names of those yet to report. On Thursday, five of them were returned to school by the chiefs in Igembe and Tigania,” Machari said.

The commissioner said the door-to-door exercise to search for the missing students will continue today.

In Tigania East sub-County in Meru, Obed Mose, the deputy commissioner and area chiefs were combing villages.

Mose said the search team found students in Mikinduri town and surrounding areas who were then taken back to their respective schools.

“We identified some and compelled them to go to school. The government is keen to see all school-going children in their institutions and this exercise will continue until we are sure all are back,” he said.

But as that happened, it emerged that a number of girls were pregnant and did not report to school.

In Igembe South sub-County in Meru, Charles Njeru, the director of education, said about 89 per cent of students had not reported.

He said the number of those who were pregnant was yet to be established.

“We are working around the clock to identify the students in the villages and called on community members to cooperate with the government to enable the children get back to school,” he said.

Pregnant headache

Kubai Mamira, a youth leader at Lailuba, Meru, said scores of girls from primary schools in the area were pregnant.

“There are un-godly persons who took advantage of the young girls when schools were closed. Girls from poor families were vulnerable and fell prey to the sex pests.

I know at least three girls in a local school who are pregnant,” Mamira claimed.

John Mamira, the Buuri location chief said some of those missing were doing menial jobs for sustenance.

“But as long as they are not due in one or two months, we are going to take them back to school to study. Last week, we went around schools to understand how many had not reported. Starting today, we are embarking on a door-to-door search,” he said.

PSs on a mission

On the national front, 14 principal secretaries will also be moving around the country to monitor the implementation of the full re-opening.

PS’s Mwakima Margaret, Hamadi Boga, Mary Kimonye, Solomon Kitungu, Nicholas Muraguri, Maj Gen (rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa, Torome Saitoti, Collete Suda, Joseph Kibere,  Belio Kipsang, Peter Tum, Alfred Cheruiyot and Francis Owino will be Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Wajir, Meru, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Kisii, Kiambu, Nandi, West Pokot, Uasin Gishu and Kisumu on inspection tours.

They will move to other counties during the week until Friday when the first leg of the inspection tours end.