The government has upgraded six schools in Rongai, Nakuru County, to boarding facilities to stem rising cases of early pregnancy.
During the prolonged closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Rongai Sub-County Children Officer Ms Beatrice Mandieka reported 520 cases of early pregnancy between January 2020 and May 2020.
“The cases were attributed to neglect by parents and financial challenges among families during the period. Domestic violence also left the young girls more vulnerable,” said Ms Mandieka.
In consultation with the local administration, the Rongai Constituency Development Fund committee embarked on resolving the challenge.
Speaking in the area at the weekend, Rongai MP Raymond Moi said the community backed the upgrade of some of the schools to boarding facilities to better protect children from the preying adult men.
Between 2020 and 2021, the MP said the CDF committee allocated funds for the construction of dormitories in select schools, with each project costing Sh2.5 million.
“At Ogilgei Primary, we constructed dormitories for both boys and girls. Other schools that benefited include Sasumua, Losibil, Kampi Ya Moto, Setkobor and Chemasis schools,” he said.
Mr Moi said each of the dormitories has an 80-bed capacity, adding that the committee will continue to allocate more funds to construct more facilities in schools in the constituency.
He underscored the need for concerted efforts to address the challenge, saying more needs to be done to solve interlinked social problems.
“Parents need to play their role of guiding their children. Issues of drug abuse and exposing our children to early pregnancy need to be addressed,” Mr Moi said.
The community has welcomed the initiative, describing it as a game-changer in access to education.
Ms Susan Metei, a parent at Setkobor Primary School, praised the government for the initiative, saying it will offer latitude to girls who face challenges that keep them out of school.
“There was no single boarding school in Solai. Our girls can now have more time to study away from the numerous chores at home,” Ms Metei said.
Mr Bill Bomet, an elder, said the initiative is welcome in the community that takes education more seriously than before. “We are witnessing improved discipline among learners,” Mr Bomet added.
Ms Rosemary Chebet termed the schools as rescue centres that will protect the children. Data shows one in every five teenage girls aged between 15 and 19 has either had a baby or is pregnant with their first child in Kenya.
The proportion of women aged 20–24 who were first married or in a union before age 18 in Kenya is 23 per cent.
More than half (54 per cent) of sexually active adolescent women in Kenya who do not want to become pregnant have an unmet need for modern contraception.
This comes as more than 13,000 teenage girls drop out of school annually because of pregnancy.