More labour pain cases on exam day

Joshua Omondi prays before tackling Mathematics paper at Joel Omino Primary School in Kisumu county on March 22nd 2021 during day 1 of KCPE examination. (Collins Oduor, Standard)

This year’s national examinations kicked off with a fair share of challenges, including a large number of female candidates sitting tests as mothers or giving birth moments before writing their final papers.

It is a situation that saw sections of some public hospitals turned into exam rooms for some girls.

At least 21 girls who sat their first papers yesterday gave birth before the exam period, while others went into labour during the exams.

Some 1.2 million candidates countrywide are sitting the tests, which were postponed last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

But what stood out yesterday was the high number of pregnant girls that The Standard put conservatively at around 200.

Authorities blamed the huge number of underage pregnancies and teenage mothers to the long stay at home by learners during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Migori County, Director of Education Elizabeth Otieno said out of the 29,787 candidates who wrote their exams, 108 were pregnant girls.

That number included those waiting to sit their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams next week.

Health facilities 

In the neighbouring Homa Bay County, three girls were admitted to local health facilities after delivering babies, while a boy sat the papers in hospital as he was unwell.

County Commissioner Moses Lilan said arrangements were in place to enable indisposed candidates to sit examinations in a health facility where education officials delivered the papers under tight security.

According to County Director of Education Fredrick Kiiru, pregnancy or delivery will not deter any girl from sitting the examination.

In Kisumu East, a 17-year-old pupil at Oyola Primary School delivered a baby moments before she sat her Mathematics paper.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha inspects seating arrangement at Thika School for the Blind on March 22,2021 when class eight candidates began their nationwide exams. (Denish Ochieng, Standard)

The pupil was allowed to write the exam at the health facility in Chiga, where she had been admitted since Sunday evening.

In Kericho County, a 17-year-old new mother was among 54,700 candidates who wrote their KCPE exams yesterday.

The girl sat her Mathematics and English papers at the maternity ward in Kericho County Hospital as her twins were being managed at the new-born unit next door.

In Mwingi North, Kitui County, five female candidates wrote their exams at different health facilities where they were admitted with labour pains.

According to a police report, one of the girls, a candidate at Wikithuki Primary Schoo, delivered at Mumoni Nursing Home where she had been admitted to in the morning. Although weak, she was able to go on with her exams.

Two other candidates were admitted to Tseikuru sub-county Hospital – one from Mwangea Primary School and another from Kyamalutu Primary School.

In Kyuso sub-county, two candidates were admitted to Kyuso sub-county hospital awaiting to deliver. They were able to write their exams from the labour wards under the close watch of medical officers.

In Trans Nzoia County, two girls were rushed to the Kitale County Hospital with labour complications.

One of the girls, a pupil at Suam Primary School, had a pre-mature delivery last month and is admitted to the facility after she developed complications.

The other girl is from a school in Tongaren Constituency in Bungoma County and is expected to deliver any time.

Three girls at Toll Station Primary School gave birth recently.

Centre Manager Carolyne Ngaira said the candidates were counselled before sitting the exams.

"We have three girls who delivered days ago and are in high spirits after we counselled them before taking their exams. We hope they are going to post good results," Mrs Ngaira told The Standard.

Two other candidates delivered minutes before the start of the examinations in the North Rift.

One of the candidates gave birth to a baby girl in Nandi County about two hours to the tests, while the second delivered at 7.30am in Uasin Gishu County. They went on to sit the examinations.

Country Education Director Zachary Mutuiri said Nandi County is one of the regions that recorded the highest number of teen pregnancies during the long Covid-19 break.

Noting that out of 3,500 primary girls who were found impregnated, over 200 are sitting their KCPE.

In the neighbouring Uasin Gishu, a candidate at Asururiet Primary School also gave birth to a girl at 7.30am.

County Director of Education Gitonga Mbaka said the girl was in good condition and she sat yesterday's papers without any difficulty.

And at least 26 inmates at Naivasha GK Prison started their KCPE exams.

The officer in charge of the prison, Hassan Tari, said just like other public schools, prisons were also affected by the pandemic which saw learning disrupted.

But he was optimistic that the inmates would perform well.

There was confusion when names of two KCPE candidates from Werugha Primary School in Taita-Taveta County were found to be missing on the centre's answer sheets bundle while a candidate from a different school failed to turn up.

The situation was further complicated when officials found a double entry of two other candidates from the same school.

The school has 61 candidates and each has to receive one answer sheet with a specific index number. But the affected candidates each received two answer sheets, said education officials.

In the Rift Valley, at least 330,000 learners sat their papers, according to Rift Regional Commissioner George Natembeya.

Natembeya oversaw the opening of a container with examination materials at Kapkures in Nakuru Town West in the morning. Examination centre managers and security personnel converged to collect the materials at around 5.30am.

Pupils in schools affected by floods in Baringo and those in the security operation zone, he said, will also sit the exams.