Seth Onyango @SethManex
The epidemic of teenage pregnancy that is devouring the future of the girlchild across the country has now struck a remote village in Trans Nzoia county, leaving 20 innocent victims in its wake.
To add insult to injury, all the affected girls are in Forms One and Two in Bwala High School, in Matumbei village in Endebess.
According to shocked residents, the culprit vectors are boda boda riders, who are apparently demanding more for the rides they offer the girls in this day school.
The criminal hand of the boda boda riders in the teenage pregnancies came to the fore during this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam when 20 girls gave birth on day one of the exercise with 100 more candidates said to be in the family way in Kilifi county. It drew the attention of a nation in denial to the monstrosity of the problem.
And in Endebess, it appears the girls were taken for a ride, both literally and figuratively by the youthful boda boda riders.
Trans Nzoia Deputy County commissioner Peter Maina said the students tested positive after a check-up at the end of national exams. Among those pregnant are students aged between 13 and 17, who have now dropped out of school.
It has emerged that fellow students first alerted the school administration about their pregnant colleagues who had confided in them about the issue.
It is at this point that the administration with the help of the office of the county commissioner sought to establish the veracity of the reports.
To get to the root of the pregnancies, the local administration has ordered a manhunt for boda boda riders suspected to have impregnated the girls. “I have also formed a security committee to look into the issue and explore ways in which the girls can be rehabilitated since getting pregnant is not the end of the world,” said Maina.
He blamed teenage pregnancies on abject poverty in the area, saying it had made students susceptible to monetary inducements by boda boda riders.
Bwala principal Richard Mabonga echoed similar sentiments, and urged parents to instil good morals in their children.
“Many students are complaining that poverty has pushed them to sexual relations and we hope something can be done to contain this problem,” he said.
In March 2016, 20 Chelebei Secondary School girls in nearby Mt Elgon area were also found to be expectant during routine tests.
In the corresponding year, 19 girls were found pregnant in the neighbouring Chepkurkur Primary School in the larger Mt Elgon region.
A fortnight ago, the government announced it was drafting a policy aimed at taming runaway teenage pregnancies.
Education Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed termed teenage pregnancies as “special crimes” against the girl child.
At the same time the government launched a probe to identify individuals responsible for pregnancies among schoolgirls, some of who delivered during this year’s KCPE exams.
Among those being pursued are the men responsible for the pregnancies of 20 candidates who delivered on day one of KCPE exam and 100 expectant teenagers.
In Narok, more than 30 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KSCE) exam candidates failed to sit their tests that kicked off because of early pregnancies and marriages.
But Amina assured a task force comprising officials drawn from various government agencies has been formed to investigate the matter.
“We are working on a policy on teenage pregnancies in schools and we will roll it out at the appropriate time. It is really sad and I am just appealing to everyone to protect children,” she said during a press briefing.
She further ordered quality assurance officers to furnish the ministry with reports on the state of teen pregnancies in schools.
In Mt Elgon, one of the most notorious regions for teenage pregnancies, parents have reportedly been entering into agreement with families of the men responsible for teenage pregnancies to marry off their daughters.
As such, the number of school dropouts in the area has been on an upward trajectory with education stakeholders calling on the government to intervene.
According to Population Reference Bureau (PRB) nearly 18 per cent of adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are mothers.