The return to school in West Pokot County has realized remarkable improvement since a multi-agency team led by Labour Principal Secretary Peter Tum and his ICT counterpart Jerome Ochieng toured the region to rally stakeholders to ensure learners report back to school after full reopening last week.
Speaking to KNA on Thursday, the County Director of Education Jacob Onyiego said the overall percentage return to school for both primary and secondary was as per January 13, 2021 stands at 75 percent from the previous close to 69 percent captured by the end of the first week of reopening.
“I want to commend the PSs for visiting the county and giving strong messages of return to school which has seen a remarkable improvement,” said the CDE.
He added that the ministry had also received a boost from the World Vision that has helped secure airtime in two local radio stations where a team of educationists have been deployed to mobilise parents towards the course.
Onyiego is optimistic that the number of learners still away from school will be enrolled by the end of the week noting that by Wednesday, slightly over 50,000 learners were still being traced to report back to school, out of the expected 133,827 pupils from the total 662 public primary schools.
He said 10,544 out of the expected 13,537 learners in private primary schools had already reported, with three schools having failed to reopen out of the total 72 schools.
The county has 189 public secondary schools and 33,101 out of the total 42,527learners have reported. At the four private secondary schools with an expected total number of 652, a total of 408 are already in school.
Pokot Central Sub County which was in the limelight for having recorded a low of 30 percent turnout before the visit had recorded a drastic improvement to slightly over 50 percent.
The CDE has appealed to parents in the region to send back their children to school.
There are however cases of parents complaining that their children were being sent back home for school fees and that some school managements are demanding for zero school fees balance especially for candidate classes.
A parent in one of the prominent schools in the county told KNA that the child had been sent home for fees since Thursday last week and had managed to return after a week after a well-wisher intervened.
“I call upon parents to make arrangements with their schools on how they are going to settle fees required rather than staying at home with their children. Boarding schools require funds for feeding the learners hence parents should support this initiative by agreeing on how they are going to pay,” stated the CDE.
Onyiego asked those parents who feel the schools were not accommodating to visit his office.
The director acknowledged that the delay in the implementation of the school feeding programme for those schools in Pokot North and Pokot Central Sub Counties could have somehow contributed to the unsteady turnout.
“We are in communication with our ministry headquarters for facilitation of the programme which has been significant in attracting learners to school,” he explained.
By Richard Muhambe