The lack of school fees to enable students to join form one has threatened to escalate early marriages and teen pregnancies in Kilifi and Tana River Counties.

Poor parents are begging the government and well-wishers to come to their aid in ensuring that their children, who are to join various secondary schools across the country, do so to avert a catastrophe.

At Kanagoni village in Magarini Sub County, Kilifi County, Mrs Kadzo Karisa Wanje is worried that her twin daughters may be wasted away in the event they fail to join Mwasere Girls High School in Taita Taveta County.

Her daughters, Mary Kulola and Esther Wanyinya sat their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Bandacho primary school in the Marereni area and scored 363 and 369 marks respectively and they all received calling letters to join Mwasere girls.

However, their dreams to become a doctor and surgeon respectively have dwindled since they failed to report to their school of calling on 6th February.

They told journalists that they fear losing out on secondary school if they fail to get help to proceed with their education.

Their fate is not different to Priscah Kadzo who was called to join Bahari Girls High school after getting 357 marks in KCPE at Mzongoloni primary school in Kilifi North Sub County.

She said that she was to report to school on Monday last week but couldn’t do so for lack of school fees. She too hails from a poor background and aspires to be a medical doctor in future.

Her mother, Mrs Eunice Nayeni said that she is in fear that her daughter might easily be swayed by men and either get pregnant or marry early if she fails to join form one.

Child Marriages

Human Rights activist Justin Kitonyo said that hundreds of students in Kilifi County were due to join form one but lack of money was a hindrance to them.

This hence is opening up avenues for child abuse and teenage pregnancies in the area.

He called on the government, local leaders, corporates and non-governmental organizations to scout for such students and ensure they join the school.

He said that boys too were affected but not compared to girls since girls face more challenges.

In Tana River, cases of girls getting married off early coupled with parental negligence have led to low form-one enrollment that currently stands at 18 percent of the total number of candidates who sat their KCPE last year.

The Tana Delta Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) chairman John Karanja said that the schools in the area were in agreement that they will let students join form one.

This was despite the fact that a number lack money and uniform but still very few parents had taken their children to school.

Mr Karanja who is also the head teacher of Mapunga Secondary school said that the biting drought had also contributed to the low turnout adding that at his institution he had only received 18 form-one students.

Mr John Kipsiwa who is the Tana Delta Deputy County Commissioner sent a warning shot to parents that they risked prosecution for failing to take their children to school.

He blamed the parents for their negligence saying that their actions were hindering the 100 percent transition from primary school to secondary school.

Grasen Member of National Assembly (MP) Ali Guyo Wario said that his office was providing uniforms to students joining form one.

He added that parents should visit the nearest National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) offices for help.

He also issued a bursary check of Sh. 15 million to all the 17 secondary schools in the area.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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