Chiefs have been ordered to be on the lookout and arrest parents facilitating marriages of their school going daughters who are at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While giving the directive, Education Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Mumina Bonaya said girls are at a high risk of being impregnated and forced into early marriages and parents must take their responsibilities seriously to ensure they are safe at all times.
She said legal action will also be taken against parents exploiting their children by giving them excessive chores or allowing them to seek casual jobs elsewhere.
“We acknowledge the risk that learners across the country are exposed to especially the girls and there is need for parents to protect them and ensure they are safe while at home,” said Ms Bonaya.
Parents, she said, must assume the teachers’ role and ensure that children continue learning while at home and are engaged at all times so that they are not lured into drug and substance abuse.
“They (parents) must monitor their movements, ensure they are engaged at all times and be mindful of whom they spend time with to prevent them from being preyed on by young men. Let them use the time to build better relationships with their children,” she noted.
Young girls, especially in pastoral communities, are at high risk of being married due to ongoing initiation rites that will see hundreds of morans graduate.
The CAS warned chiefs against abetting the vice, noting that they will be held responsible if any girl from their areas fails to report to school on reopening.
She said the government will then conduct a headcount for the learners to ensure all are back in school.
“Chiefs and parents will be answerable over cases of learners failing to report back to school. Parents should report such incidences so that the perpetrators are arrested and action taken,” she said.
Speaking while distributing food to vulnerable families in Burat and Oldonyiro wards in Isiolo County, Ms Mumina reiterated the government’s commitment towards ensuring an enabling environment ahead of the reopening of schools.
The government will, before the resumption of learning, ensure all schools have enough running water for hand washing, face masks for the learners and reasonable spacing for social distancing purposes, she said.
The CAS said that schools in dry areas across the country where there is no water will be provided with enough hand sanitisers.
Ms Bonaya said the government is aware of the challenges that parents continue to undergo in feeding their children in the wake of Covid-19 and it will continue distributing foodstuffs to vulnerable Kenyans.
“The government is committed to continue feeding the learners while at home to reduce the pressure on parents before schools reopen,” she said during a visit at Victors Children Home in Burat where she distributed 10 bags of rice.
On the ongoing e-learning, the CAS asked parents in the far flung areas not to worry because the school syllabus will continue from where it stopped when in mid-March after the coronavirus outbreak.
The ongoing learning programme is meant to ensure learners are engaged and do not forget what they had learnt before they were sent home, she said.
The CAS appealed to Kenyans to be compassionate to each other during this hard economic times by sharing with the less fortunate in the society.
“We all must be mindful of how those around us are faring on and ensure they at least have something to eat. Let us share the little we have as we hope the pandemic is contained soonest possible,” she appealed.