Feature: Access to education still a luxury for poor Kenyans
17 June 2015, 18:44
Nairobi - Queenter Atieno is playing
with her mates at her grandmother's village in Kisumu County,
The 12-year-old never stepped in a classroom.
She has hearing
impairment, but this is not the reason why she has stayed out of
school. She lacks all guardians to sponsor her education after her
"I have yearned to go to school, but I don't have school fees
and textbooks," she said.
Atieno lost her parents to HIV/AIDS at a tender age of three.
She has been under the care of her ailing grandmother.
But Atieno is not the only child that has been deprived of
education. She represents thousands of children, particularly in
rural parts of the country who have been unable to access quality
education, good health care, sanitation and shelter.
As Kenya joins other countries in celebrating the Day of the
African Child on Tuesday, many children in the East African nation
still lag behind in accessing quality education.
Majority are orphaned children languishing in poverty and cannot
access education and other basic services.
According to the 2013 United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)'s
report, about 5.3 million Kenyan children are deprived of
Most of the deprived children hail from poor regions like
Turkana, Mandera, Isiolo, Wajir, Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay
counties, among others.
"Children from these regions have resorted to fishing,
pastoralism, gold mining, cane growing and other activities to
raise money to buy food," Susan Jobando, a nutritional expert at
the UNICEF Kisumu regional office, told Xinhua in an interview.
She said that accessing education poses a great challenge among
poor families who survive on less than 1 U.S. dollar per day.
"It is very disheartening that children as young as eight years
old drop out of school to venture into fishing to put food on the
table. This is even as the government steps up to implement the
free primary education policy in all the public schools," Jobando
The aim of celebrating the day is to help raise awareness of the
continuing need for improvement of the education provided to
Kisumu County Director of Education Sylvester Mulambe cautioned
parents against child labor, saying it's against the law and those
found culpable would be punished. But it does not work well.
"We have reports of parents sending their children to gold mines
and cane growing areas. This is against the law and any parent
found guilty shall be arrested and charged with child labour,"
A report released by the county government of Kisumu last year
revealed that a number of parents are marrying off their daughters
at tender ages in order to put food on the table. As a result, many
girls are forced to drop out of schools because of early marriages
"We need to change our morals if we are to promote the girl and
boy child education. These youngsters are the future leaders of
this country and we should strive hard to ensure that they excel in
education," said Jennifer Kerre, Kisumu county chief executive in
charge of education.
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