The governmental in partnership with Stella Maris Othaya Girls High School have rolled out a unique learning programme to assist disadvantaged students to continue learning as schools remain closed due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The programme, a brain-child of the institution’s Chief Principal, Mrs. Jane Njuguna and the Nyeri South Deputy County Commissioner, Henry Ochako entails physical learning of students who cannot access E-learning.
“We realized that not all students have access to the internet, smart phones, electricity and moved in to bridge the gap,” said the Principal on Saturday at the school in Othaya town.
Mrs. Njuguna who is also the current holder of the Principal of the Year Award noted that education is a constitutional right of every child and no one should be denied access to it despite their social status.
In the programme, chiefs and their assistants are used to identify students without access to the internet and their locations and collect learning materials from St. Stella Marie Othaya Girls High school library on their behalf and physically take to them.
The students are given assignments and the administrators take back to the school teachers who mark and return the marked papers to students for corrections and additional tasks on a weekly basis.
“The students must not be learners in this institution. We serve all of them,” said Mrs Njuguna as chiefs collected learning materials from the library.
She said the programme has kept students busy and prevented them from social ills like teenage pregnancies and drug and substance abuse.
The educationist further said that the students in the programme are assigned mentors, men and women of integrity in the society who act as their role models.
She added that those accessing the internet continue with their online sessions as offered by the school teachers from 8.00 am to 2.00pm and then left to assist their parents.
The Principal appealed to the government to facilitate the programme to reach more students across the country adding, “we do not want to lose a whole generation because of this pandemic”.
The deputy county commissioner who was also present disclosed that 63 cases of early pregnancies have been reported from the area as at the month of June, adding that the programme had come at an opportune time to save students from waywardness.
Ochako urged other sub-counties in Nyeri County to embrace the programme to tame students from social ills that ruin their lives.
The Nyeri County Women Representative, Rahab Mukami urged the Ministry of Education to find ways of distributing sanitary pads to female students now that the schools are closed.
“The Women Rep office used to distribute sanitary pads to female students and I appeal to Education CS, Prof. George Magoha to come up with strategies on how these pads will reach the girls,” Mukami said.
She said that girls are lured by men with money to buy the pads leading to teenage pregnancies.
Mukami said girls who get pregnant while in school should be allowed to continue with her education to better their lives.
She noted that Kieni constituency was the most hit area by teenage pregnancies and urged the church to start mentorship programmes to cushion students from straying and destroying their future.
At the same time, Mukami said her office would partner with the administrators involved in the programme to facilitate them with credit and transport as they physically trace the students.
This was after Othaya Township Location Senior chief Mr Stephen Githaiga cited some of the challenges they are going through in tracing the students, collecting the learning materials and returning them.
“We are sacrificing for the sake of these children and we do not want to lose them during this Covid-19 period,” Githaiga said.
Parents, Daniel Githinji and Ms Tabitha Wanja whose children are benefiting from the programme hailed the Principal and the national government administrators saying their children were now being kept busy and have no time to engage in social vices.
Some of the beneficiaries of the programme, Alex Mureithi, a Form four student at Ruthagati secondary school, Angela Ngatia, Margret Wangari and Cathrine Wangui all from Stella Maris Othaya Girls school said their minds were kept occupied and had no time for loitering.
By Mwangi Gaitha