Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu has noted with disappointment that initiation ceremonies carried out towards the end of last year in parts of Baringo County have greatly hampered smooth resumption of studies by learners.
Speaking at Chemolingot boys high school in Tiaty West on Wednesday during operation back to school visit to selected learning institutions in the county Mr Irungu said that it was unwise for the communities to place a premium in the deep rooted cultural practice at the expense of their children’s learning adding in some schools almost half of the children had not reported back.
The PS accompanied by Government spokesman Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna and Baringo County Commissioner Henry Wafula stated that circumcision ceremonies usually performed during long school holidays had contributed to absenteeism and mass drop out of learners especially in schools within Tiaty and Baringo South constituencies.
“Circumcision can wait until a later date but learning cannot wait, that is why it should be abandoned immediately so that our children can go back to school after the long nine months break,” he said.
Irungu who was among a team comprising three principal secretaries and Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) directors led by Labour PS Eng. Peter Tum who made extensive tour of the selected schools in the area asked education officials and national government administrators to move with speed and get a comprehensive data of all children who have not reported by the second week of resumption for quick remedial action to be taken.
At Chemolingot high school, the Water PS was shocked to be told by the principal that so far 142 out of 347 students in institution have not reported due to the ongoing circumcision ceremonies and another five boys have abandoned learning and married.
He stated that missing learners should be made to come back immediately to continue with education more so those preparing to sit for national examinations in March this year.
Area MP William Kamket who joined the high ranking government officials in monitoring and assessing the progress of learning at Katoron public primary and Chemolingot boy’s secondary schools concurred that the rite of passage had affected resumption of studies by many children in the area.
He said they had asked elders to suspend the initiation rituals until a later date to allow children particularly the boys to go back to school and learn like their counterparts in other parts of the country.
“We have sat down and discussed with village elders and chiefs so that the ceremonies should not be taking the usual four months but three to four weeks to avoid disadvantaging the initiates from learning,” he stressed.
Mr Kamket however stated that circumcision was not the biggest problem to reopening by children but drought ravaging the arid region forcing parents to migrate with their kids to far places in search of pasture and water.
A week ago, about 238 boys in Tirioko location in Tiaty West Sub County were rescued by area chief backed by about 20 police officers from a forced traditional circumcision that would have marked the end of their learning during the current education calendar in its second week.
Chief Carlos Kapkoikat said that the initiation which takes more than three months would have spelt doom to the affected boys’ education as they would have graduated into morans and immediately marry and start families.
Mr Oguna asked managers of learning institutions in the region to establish isolation facilities to place children in case Covid-19 disease strike stressing that it was not possible to have 100 percent prevention.
He stated that the government has purchased 7,500,000 face masks to be distributed to children from poor households.
The government spokesperson added that the national government has provided health scheme to teachers to cover them against Covid-19 while in line of duty and beyond.
He said the arrangement of learning under a tree should not be demonized since the government has encouraged school managers and teachers to utilize any available resources within their disposal to ensure that children learn smoothly adding that open spaces guaranteed free circulation of air and observance of social distancing.
by Benson Kelio/Joshua Kibet