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Kisumu Governor's wife Olivia Ranguma joins push to take young mothers back to school

Olivia Ranguma (centre) during a walk to raise funds for girls who have dropped out of school due to early pregnancy. [Photo: Collins Oduor/Standard]

Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma’s wife Olivia led more than 400 girls from Nyanza in a walk to raise funds for those forced to drop out of school due to early pregnancy.

The county government has, in recent weeks, raised concern over the alarming number of early pregnancy cases among school-going girls.

The worst cases have been reported in Nyamasaria, Otonglo, Seme and Awasi areas where such girls are then forced to get married or engage in child labour. Some of them die while procuring unsafe abortions.

Although the county has initiated campaigns towards reduction of such cases, officials say bringing down the statistics is an uphill task due to deep rooted cultural beliefs and meagre funding.

Eroded morality

“In the past, poverty was the main contributor to the high incidence of teenage pregnancy, however, current statistics indicate that peer influence and an erosion of society’s morality are also to blame,” Education Executive Jennifer Kere said.

The walk, held on Saturday, was organised by the Nyanza Initiative for Girls Education and Empowerment (Nigee) which is an organisation that has seen over 300 girls return to school.

Speaking during the event, Nigee Patron Kawango Agot, said their campaign aims at reaching girls and convincing them to return to school.

“We have achieved this locally by organising walks. We were in Homa Bay last month and early next year, we are heading to Siaya for the same exercise,” she said.

Prof Agot said the worrying statistics have caused women in Nyanza to shift their attention to the plight of girls whose opportunities for education have been cut short by poverty, early marriage and pregnancy.

“Motherhood is a beautiful thing but at the wrong place and time, it could be detrimental to the future of both the mother and child,” she said.

Not enough

In this year’s budget, the county allocated some Sh100 million to support the girl-child’s education but this has been viewed as wanting, by some, due to the number of girls in need.

Mrs Ranguma however, said livelihoods can be rebuilt not necessarily by big donations but by random acts of love and sacrificial giving.

“The county cannot cover every need. We must come up with our own home-grown solutions,” she said.