More than 5,000 pupils and students from 16 schools flooded with water from Lakes Baringo and Bogoria have been relocated to other learning institutions to ensure they do not miss classes as schools reopened Monday.
Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya said officials from the Ministry of Education were on the ground collecting data on the affected schools, which will be used by both levels of government in coming up with a lasting solution .
Some of the affected schools were Loruk, Sokotei, Ng’ambo, Kiserian, Salabani and Lake Baringo primary and secondary schools.
Others are Ng’enyin, Noosukro, Rugus, Lorok, Leswa, Sintaan and Lake Bogoria Primary Schools.
Speaking after conducting an assessment tour of learning institutions in Nakuru as they reopened, Natembeya further pointed out that all the pupils from a primary school in Marishioni within Njoro Sub-County, which was vandalized during evictions from Eastern Mau Forest had secured admissions at the nearby Daraja Primary School.
Data from the Baringo County Department of Education shows that 22 ECDE centres have also been affected by flooding in Baringo North and Baringo South sub-counties.
At the same time, the administrator revealed that more than 5,000 teenage pregnancies were reported in the region since schools were closed in March last year following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said it was the government’s official policy that pregnant teenagers or those who had given birth be readmitted unconditionally in schools to continue with their education.
“I have been instructed to ensure that all primary and secondary school heads furnish my office with the number of pupils and students who were in their respective institutions before Covid-19 outbreak against those who have reported on reopening,” said Natembeya.
“Those who will not have been reported must be accounted for through help of agents of regional administration and local leaders. We will not allow the long closure of schools to disrupt the learning cycle in this country,” affirmed the administrator.
Natembeya directed schools to set up breastfeeding rooms for pupils with lactating babies, adding that disciplinary action would be taken against teachers who discriminated against teenagers who have either given birth or gotten pregnant.
He said a special team was on the ground to crack down on those responsible for teenage pregnancies and would also incorporate DNA profiling to bring such culprits to account.
While confirming that 99.9 percent and 56 percent of public and private schools respectively had reopened, the Regional Commissioner acknowledged that social distancing was still a challenge and called on Members of Parliament to channel more Constituency Development Funds towards construction of new classrooms and sinking of boreholes.
He said some of the private institutions that played a vital role in supplementing public schools may not reopen after converting to other businesses.
Natembeya however expressed optimism that public schools had the capacity to absorb those who would be affected.
The Regional Commissioner directed chiefs to crack down on pupils and students who have not reported to school after engaging in income generating activities such as fishing, boda boda riding, sand harvesting and hawking.
“If we find a child of school going age doing business, we will have the parent or guardian arrested and prosecuted before court,” he warned.
Natembeya also banned selling of fruits and foodstuffs outside all learning institutions in the region.
By Jane Ngugi