Samburu school drop-outs urged to return DigiRedio 21 September 2023

Samburu school drop-outs urged to return

As part of the ”Operation Come to School” to get out-of-school children to return to learning, the Centre for Behaviour Change Communication (CBCC) organised a community photo shoot in Suguta Marmar Primary School in Samburu in preparation for the development of the campaign materials.

The community responded with enthusiasm as parents sought to have their children who had dropped out of, or failed to enrol in, schools get a chance at learning. Samburu is among Kenya’s top sixteen counties with the highest incidence of school drop-outs among children. Largely a pastoralist people, the Samburu’s constant movement in search of water and pasture for their cattle has made it quite easy for children to drop through the cracks of the education system without drawing attention.

The ”Operation Come to School” is an initiative of the Kenya government together with UNICEF and a few other partners including Educate a Child. Its objective is to get the significant number of Kenyan children who for various reasons are outside of the learning system to school. Some among these dropped out, others have just been unable to join despite attaining the necessary age.

“We created a committee whose job was to seek out the children who are out of school in the villages and find out if whatever was preventing them from school or forcing them out of it could be overcome.”

Peter Lemuma - Head teacher Suguta Marmar Primary School in Samburu .

The committee, he explains, consists of the school’s chairman, a teacher, the local chief and the area Assistant County Commissioner. “We had, on the enrolment drive, a template for following up with the children. When tracking down the children, we encourage all the partners to meet frequently to ensure that whatever contingencies arise are dealt with speedily. Things move fast around here and failure to meet frequently and update ourselves on any particular child’s situation can easily lead to their falling out of the system without being noticed.”

A meeting among the partners in May 2022 resolved that the Nyumba Kumi (a village committee) in every village be given the task to look for the out-of-school children. It would be the job of chiefs and sub-chiefs to provide data and the work of the head teacher to ensure that children who reported to school got admitted. Parents were also warned that keeping their children at home could be considered breaking the law.

Hence the community photoshoot. This was part of the activities geared towards getting the children to school. During the event, two children, a  boy and a girl, got enrolled. “The integration of the children into school was fairly successful,” Mr Lemuma says. “The boy, Loshupae Letowon, joined in Grade 1 and is doing quite well.  Due to his age and quick mind, we promoted him two classes up. So now he is now in Grade 3.”

Things have not gone so well for Nashami Lekula. As a matter of fact, the little girl is in a desperate situation and needs help. “The distance both the boy and the girl have to travel to school is fairly substantial,” Mr Lemuma explains. “However, the boy is big and can, to a large extent, take care of himself. He can walk the several kilometres from his home to school daily. The same is not true of the girl. First, she is too young for the demands of walking the distance to school daily. The family lives far from the institution. We considered housing her within the school but that required some money which the father could not raise, which is the second reason why she has dropped out again. The family is in economic dire straits.”

In fact, so poor is the family that the father could not raise the necessary funds for purchasing a school uniform for his daughter. “He has been coming to our school regularly to find if a well-wisher might have sent help so his girl can return to school,” Lemuma says. So far, nothing has transpired to give little Nashami hope.

Despite this, the campaign continues and there is hope that more children will brought into the mainstream education system and Nashami herself would not be let behind.

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