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Full transition for learners not reality for obvious reasons

Opinion
 Every child has a right to free and compulsory education. [File, Standard]

As Kenyans prepare for the reopening of schools for the second term, all is not well in the all-important education sector.

A few weeks ago, at the Radio Maisha news desk, we set out to find out if there were any 2023 KCPE candidates who had not taken up their places in Form 1. We were surprised that there were cases of pupils who had been forced by circumstances not to proceed to Form One.

Out of the many, we highlighted the case of two sisters somewhere in Kamukuywa in Bungoma County. Even after scoring over 340 marks in their KCPE examination, they have been forced to stay at home with their grandmother.

Their mothers, who were single parents, took off at various stages of their lives, and only their grandmother can fend for them. They are just a sample of tens or thousands of others who face similar circumstances.

This is even as the government, through the Ministry of Education, may have made us believe that all is well. At the desk, we also been made aware of cases of pupils who never managed to sit the KCPE examination for various reasons and who are having a hard time getting admitted to secondary schools.

Remember, the Ministry of Education allowed all those who missed out on the KCPE examination to proceed with secondary education and later do an exam that would allow them to be fully integrated. However, that process may not have been well elaborated for the intended beneficiaries. These are children that may even need a little coercing from their state of hopelessness.

 I advise that every primary school be made to account for at least every pupil that sat the exam and whether they proceeded to Form One or not. Secondly, they must also account for any dropouts prior to the examination period.

That’s not all; the delay in government capitation has made most school heads quite strict with fee payments. As they closed for the first term holiday, most schools gave ultimatums for students to settle any fee arrears and make subsequent payments as they report back next week.

What that means is that come term two, a number of students are likely to keep away or be turned away. It is important that the Ministry of Education takes care not to allow the number of pupils and students dropping out of school to rise.

According to a report published by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Assessment, the percentage of school-going children up to 15 years old who were out of school increased from 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent.

Four out of 10 of the children involved in the survey said that they kept out of school due to lack of fees. That is already a worrying trend. Most boys are likely to end up in crime or poverty.

Most girls who drop out of school are likely to end up as single mothers after short stints in quickly arranged marriages or experimental relationships. The Constitution says every child has a right to free and compulsory education. Let that be a reality for all.

-The writer is anchor at Radio Maisha

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