PD Team @Peopledailyke
The 2018 examinations season officially kicked off yesterday—and with it, a disturbing stark reality of runaway teenage pregnancy.
The grim statistics exposed on day one of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam — 20 babies and more than pregnant 100 candidates — popped out to stare at a nation that has buried its head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich on twin tragedies of underage sex and that has blighted the future of thousands of young girls, their families and by extension, society.
The affected candidates, aged between 14 and 17, perhaps found themselves yielding to exam-related tension and gave birth to their bundles of joy.
The candidates delivered the babies as Education Cabinet secretary Amina Mohammed assured the examinations had not suffered the scourge of either leakage nor early exposure.
She spoke as she led other government officials in opening containers stationed in various counties, even as she assured appropriate measures have been taken to ensure all pupils in areas affected by insecurity and displacements will write their exams without any hitch.
But the high cases of teenage pregnancies, with some of the candidates forced to sit for their exams either expectant or in maternity wards after delivering their babies, were reported with Kilifi county having more than 100 expectant girls sitting the exam.
Sadly, some of the teenage mums, who were trapped in the thrill of boda boda rides offered by operators preying on their naivety will likely be abandoned by the fathers of their children.
Kilifi Woman Representative Gertrude Mbeyu described the situation as a disaster that must be urgently addressed to secure the future of the girl child. She said of the 100 girls, 26, were from Kibarani ward, 15 from Konjora and 10 in a single school, who had to sit their exams in labour wards.
In Kaloleni constituency, the area Deputy County Commission Paul Rotich said about 20 girls from various learning institutions, including national schools are pregnant.
In Magarini constituency, about 20 girls from different schools were also reported to be pregnant while Kilifi South MP Ken Chonga said 18 girls from five primary schools were pregnant.
In Kwale, a candidate from a primary school in Matuga was forced to take her exams in hospital after she went into labour while doing her mathematics paper. She later continued with the exam after delivering. In Busia, a 17-year-old girl sat for her Mathematics paper from the county referral hospital after giving birth to a baby girl.
School authorities said the candidate was given a special room within maternity wing where she sat for the paper under the supervision of examination and security officials.
She was expected to sit the rest of the papers in school with other candidates. Other deliveries were reported in Webuye, Baringo North and two in Nyandarua.
Devolution Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa visited the Nyandarua candidate where her mother Teresia Njeri was nursing her granddaughter in the maternity ward of the health centre.
“We wish her well as she is determined to sit for her exam despite being less than a day after delivery,” noted the CS. In Mumias, two candidates sat for their exams in hospital even as they suffered excessive bleeding after delivering.
Yet another candidate was admitted to Karatina sub-county hospital after she was rushed there by her parents to deliver. A candidate from Mwea constituency will sit his exam at Embu level five hospital after he was involved in a motorcycle accident.
Three candidates in Homa Bay county are sitting for their national examinations in hospital after giving birth. Two of the candidates were rushed to two different health centers after they developed labour pain on Monday night.
In Homa Bay’s Othire village, a candidate committed suicide on Monday leaving residents in shock. Joseph Otieno Omollo, aged 16, allegedly hanged himself in the house at 4am on Monday over unknown reasons.
Elsewhere, two candidates are also sitting for their examination from the hospital bed after one of them was bitten by a snake. In Rangwe, a 14-year-old candidate was bitten by a snake.
While overseeing the exams, Amina said the government would use every means including choppers to make sure that examination materials reached all the designated centers on time and reiterated that the ministry would ensure a 100 per cent transition, adding that examinations should no longer be taken as a matter of life and death undertaking.
And speaking from Mombasa, the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) chairman Prof George Magoha warned that any institution involved in any malpractice in the examinations will be shut down immediately.
Responding to reports that 11 students from Shimo La Tewa did not sit for their exams, Magoha said the council has no intentions of flouting its rules.
From Garissa, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i assured parents and candidates that the exam will be ‘clean’ and devoid of any malpractices.
He said a few challenges that had been experienced in terms of transportation of exam material following the heavy rains in Mandera and Wajir counties had been sorted out.
In Naivasha, the Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia warned that stern action would be taken against private schools found to have registered weaker KCPE candidates in public schools.
In Kericho a candidate facing murder charges is sitting KCPE under police guard after appearing in a local court. High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi’s directive that the minor undertake his KCPE under security to ensure his safety.
In Turkana, 54 exam centers were merged due to weather challenges where county director of education Pius Ng’oma, accompanied by Cabinet secretary for Petroleum and Mining John Munyes, said four of the stations are in Kapedo and Turkana East sub county.
In Mandera, candidates in two schools took their exams late as transport was cut off by the heavy rains.
County director of education Abdi Hamid Maalim said the heavy rains made it hard for the invigilators to pick the examination materials from the county headquarters.
In Kajiado, County Commissioner David Kipkemei on Monday night rescued a candidate hours after she had been married off.
The rescue was conducted at a home in Mailwa area of Matapato South Ward at midnight, hours before, the 14-year-old girl was to sit for her exam.