Narok County Women Representative Ms. Soipan Kudate has declared war on men who impregnate minors leading to upsurge in school dropouts.
Speaking at the African centre of hope in Narok town after issuing scholarship cheques worth Sh.1.3million to 33 needy students who benefited from the National Government Affirmative Action (NGAAF) bursary Fund, Soipan called for concerted efforts from parents, teachers, children’s office and the Ministry of Education to ensure that girl-child get opportunity to access education like their male counterparts.
“We need good retention of girls in schools. We have had many girls dropping out of school at primary level due to early pregnancies,” she said.
Ms. Kudate said chiefs should be on the forefront in identifying the culprits so that they can face the law as they live among the community.
“About 40 per cent of our girls in Narok drop out of school each year due to early pregnancies and marriages and as leaders we need to be ashamed. I will not tire from fighting for the girl child even if it cost me my seat,” she said.
Soipan also appealed to the community and leaders to assist the local administration in the fight against FGM and early pregnancies and marriages which are rampant in the area.
“These social vices affect girls’ schooling and limit their capacity to reach their potential. Girls enrollment in the lower primary in the county is often high but as they progress many drop out after undergoing FGM because after that hey either get married or get pregnant,” she noted
“Although the NGAAF fund is meagre, we have tried putting in place various projects that will empower women and youths in the county” Soipan said.
Soipan said they went through a rigorous process to select the 33 students since the fund was not enough for all applicants but this will be scaled up as funds become available.
“We decided to limit the number but give them full scholarships in order to ensure their education in secondary school is not interrupted at any point,” she said.
Last year, only 40 per cent of all candidates who sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations in Narok County were girls, raising serious issues of transition from primary to secondary schools among the girl child, especially among the Maasai community in the area.
This has been attributed to deep rooted cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early pregnancies and early marriages where the girls are circumcised at a tender age and married off instead of proceeding with their education.
The function was attended by Narok County Commissioner Mr. George Natembeya and administrators in the county including chiefs, their Assistant and deputy county commissioners.
By Mabel Keya-Shikuku and Samuel Kitungat