By Abdi Hussein
The Government has called on stakeholders to explore ways to avert a possible rise in distress levels among leaners.
Public Service, Youth and Gender Services CS Prof Margaret Kobia said children are uncertain about their fate, worried on their future and examinations due to the closure of schools.
Schools and other learning institutions have remained closed since March 16th 2020 when the first Covid-19 case was reported in the country.
“Many are worried as 70 per cent of the 18 million children who are at home cannot access digital learning and this is having an impact on them,” she warned.
The CS who spoke in Kajiado County during the Day of the African Child at Inkenyi Primary School in Kajiado Central said efforts to safeguard the future of children are heavily dependent on their education.
“We are apprehensive domestic violence against children has shot up during this pandemic and call upon parents to take charge because our homes ought to be the safest havens,” she said.
Those in rural areas are most affected as they are unable to access digital learning platforms due to poor connectivity.
With lack of electricity in many areas, the cost of digital learning is beyond the reach of an ordinary family in rural and pastoralist areas
She called upon education stakeholders to discuss how to mitigate the academic disadvantage due to the prevailing conditions.
Prof Kobia who was accompanied by Environment CS Keriako Tobiko said the devolved units had the responsibility to domesticate laws that protect children.
She cited Kajiado County as the only county that had enacted a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) policy and noted that a Child Protection Bill had been tabled at the Kajiado County Assembly.
“We are glad that Kajiado has set the right pace for the girl child protection and is imperative that other counties follow, “she said.
Kajiado County Governor Joseph Ole Lenku underscored the need for children rights stakeholders not to leave the boy child behind as the gains made in girl empowerment could be negated in the future.
“Our boys feel left out in this empowerment train and we need to carry them along. I am personally handling a list of cases of neglected boys and we ought to bring up children who can reason at the same level,” said the Governor.
He said the closure of schools during this pandemic has caused untold suffering to children as most of them were unable to get food at home.
“In many pastoralist counties, food rations attract them to school but majority of them are currently going hungry,” he regretted.
Tobiko gave a personal account on how he helped his sister, Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko escape female circumcision, and subsequently opening up her path to leadership.
“At one point, my father though Peris was ready for marriage and was willing to give her out. I stood against the decision and my sister managed to complete school. We must now bring this vice to an end,” implored Tobiko.
Gender CAS Rachel Shebesh, Maendeleo ya Wanawake Chairperson Rahab Muiu and local MPs Joseph Manje (Kajiado North) and Kanchori Memusi (Kajiado Central) were present.