Cases of teenage pregnancies and early marriages among girls in West Pokot County have increased, a trend that worries local leaders.
According to Lelan Ward Representative Paul Yaraki, the trend has adversely affected education standards in the area.
Mr Yaraki says the early pregnancies have led to a rise in both poverty levels and illiteracy.
According to him, the most affected areas are Mokoyon, Meshau and Simotwo sub-locations where about 30 per cent of girls have dropped out of school due to early pregnancies.
He said that girls aged between 13 and 16 years are the most affected as they drop out of school even before they get to class eight.
Mr Yaraki pointed out that despite other pupils looking forward to this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam results, most of the girls in the ward are a worried lot as they did not do the tests due to pregnancies.
“As their colleagues are waiting for their KCPE results, theirs are shattered dreams because they failed to sit the examinations.
“Parents are also affected because they sacrificed a lot to help their children get education,” said Mr Yaraki.
According to the MCA, in 2016 alone, 10 girls in one of the primary school have become pregnant and dropped out of school.
“Among the 10 girls, some have now become mothers and others are waiting to deliver. I am sure next year they will not go back to school,” added Mr Yaraki.
He appealed to the local leaders and parents to help instil discipline among the school-going children to help reduce cases of early marriages.
“Those men who impregnate the girls don’t marry them. They even fail to take responsibility of helping the teenagers to raise their children. A place where women don’t go to school has a high poverty index,” regretted the ward rep.
He appealed the national government to introduce sex education in schools in order to help for the girls avoid early pregnancies.
In the entire village with a population of 500 people, there is only one woman who has attained college education.