In a sleepy village in the hinterland of Kilifi County, a 15-year-old girl cuddles her two-week-old infant, born just days before its mother sat her KCPE exams.
Despite the setback, the girl said she was determined to pursue her education and possibly join secondary school next year.
“Then after my secondary education, I want to join the university for a course in education. I want to be a teacher. This to me was an accident which will not deter me from achieving my ambitions,” the girl said.
According to her, she was impregnated by a pupil from a nearby school who is now in Standard Seven.
“When I told him about the pregnancy, he said that he will take care of the baby's needs,” she said. However, no sooner had he made the solemn declaration than he fled from the village.
“He is not currently here but his parents said they will take care of his baby,” the teenage mother told Saturday Nation.
Such tales are common in Kilifi and the community here seems lost on how this matter can be effectively addressed.
The county's education director, Mr Moses Karati, said there were numerous cases of girls who sat their KCPE exams while pregnant.
"Yes, we reported these cases. They were there but I cannot give the exact number because I have to get the briefing from my officers on the ground,” Mr Karati said.
However, Sauti Ya Wanawake chairperson in Ganze, Ms Judith Uchi, said in Ganze alone, more than 100 KCPE candidates either sat for their exams while pregnant or had given birth weeks or months earlier.
"We have the records to support our claims. The trend is worrying and something needs to be done urgently, " she said.
Some of the victims who narrated their ordeal and insisting that, regardless of what had happened, they are still determined to continue with their education.
At Maryani Primary School, a candidate who did her exams while six months pregnant said she had the support of her parents and teachers.
"It was my mistake, I loved a village boy who had promised to take care of me but ran away when I revealed my pregnancy to him, " the 16-year-old pupil said.
"My parents and teachers asked me not to give up and that I must continue with my education. At one moment I had given up but that is no more. I want to proceed to secondary school and continue with my education," she said.
A teacher at the school said the girl had a promising life and that they pushed her to go back to class despite her condition.
"She is very bright in class and when this happened, she looked disturbed but we gave her hope," he said.
At Kadzandani Primary School, also in Kilifi, a 15-year-old girl also sat her exams while six months pregnant. The teenager said she was lured by an Imam at a local mosque.
"Whenever I went to the mosque for prayers, he would tell me to remain behind. He would then take me to a nearby bush and make love to me. When I told him that I was pregnant he ran away and has never been seen," she said.
Her father said he had contacted the police who are looking for the suspect. "We have recorded a statement and it is our hope that he will be arrested," the girl's father said.
At Kachororoni village, we met another KCPE candidate who gave birth two weeks before the start of the exams. She however vowed to continue with her education.
"To me, this is not the end of the world and I will continue to soldier on," she said. Kilifi Woman Representative Gertrude Mbeyu said the trend is worrying.
"In this year alone, my office has received about 50 cases of teen pregnancies. I am concerned as this has a big effect on the education of the girl child in the county," she lamented.
It has now emerged that poor parental guidance, poverty and ignorance by the younger generation in Kilifi County is the root cause of teen pregnancies.
A Mwaeba village elder, Mr Benson Baya, blamed the trend on dances at funeral ceremonies, mostly held at night and colloquially known as "disco matanga".
"Despite the efforts by the government and other leaders to have the problem addressed, there are parents who still allow their daughters to attend disco malanga. It's sad that the same functions end in unwanted or early pregnancy," Mzee Baya, who serves the six villages of Kimbule, Kadzandani, Mwaeba Central Mwaeba East and Pangani/Gandini, said.
The village elder said parents had absconded their duty towards their daughters, hence giving them time to engage in vices.
"There are boda-boda operators who lure girls with goodies in exchange for sex,” he said.
Additionally, lots of idle girls aged between 14 and 16 visit Ganze every market day yet they have no work to do there. “It is at the market place where these girls meet boys,” he said.