Education is No Longer a Mirage for Pupils in Kilifi County
More pupils are now attending school in Kilifi County than before devolution was introduced under the new Constitution.
This starts from Early Childhood Development Centres, to primary and then to secondary schools.
According to statistics for 2014 enrollment, made available with the coming of devolution, public ECDE centres were 1,320 and the county government through the Rapid Results Initiative constructed over 70 new centres in all the 35 wards and rehabilitated 75 centres in all the wards at a cost of more than Sh140 million with an enrollment of over 70,000 children.
To make sure that ECDE programme succeeded, the County government has also built ECD Teachers Training College at Kibarani at a cost of Sh50 million.
It has also employed 600 caretakers [teachers] and plans are to increase them to 1,500 next financial year at a cost of Sh140 million.
Devolution as enshrined in the current constitution is the newest system of governance. The County government has through the ECD Programme relieved parents the burden of paying teachers, buying books, writing materials for their children.
On bursaries and scholarships, the County government issued Sh350 million to bright children from poor backgrounds to continue with their education during the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, Sh490 million and in 2015/2016, Sh300 million.
“75 per cent of the bursaries went to secondary school students, 10 per cent went to Youth Polytechnic students and 18 per cent for the university students,” Said Governor Amason Kingi, in a recent interview.
The enrollment in public primary schools is over 300,000; boys up from over 150,000 and girls 440,000. In secondary schools the number reached over 500,000 whereby boys were 240,000 and girls only 267,000.
The major challenges facing education sector in the county is the low interest in education, early marriages, child labor, tourism, drug abuse, poor performance in national examinations. Others are inadequate funding from the national government for the Free Primary Education and bursaries, and poor parental support. This is mainly due to shortage of staff, inadequate transport for national government education officials among others.
Ganze and Magarini sub-counties are regions where education is yet to take centre stage. The poor infrastructure, lack of water and long dry spells and early marriages among the girls are some of the challenges facing the locals.
According to a stakeholder in Bamba Division in Ganze sub-county, Mzee Kenga Chengo, many children in the area fail to enroll in school at their required time due to poverty.
“Those who have a chance to do so when aged between 5-7 years, some drop out because of their age. This is the time when girls end up in the hands of greedy men. In the past we have witnessed cases where some drop out of school to become traditional healers,” Chengo says.
He revealed that there is much to be done to educate the public on the need to embrace education and shy away from traditional practices. Though the free primary education provided by the national government is meant to ensure all children go to school, this is not the case in this part of Ganze sub-county as learners face challenges attending school.
“Most of those attending school spend part of their time helping their parents in household chores,” another says George Kadzaa.
He noted that many boys end up herding livestock as it is the only source of income for their families. Most of the locals also depend on charcoal burning, a venture that is opposed to by environmentalists and the authorities.
The introduction of the school-feeding programme in Ganze and Magarini sub-counties brought short relief as lack of water made it difficult for the meals to be prepared. Some parents cannot raise the Sh20 to pay for cooks hence many children are forced out of school while those who sail through primary education fail to proceed to secondary due to lack of funds.
Says Kadzaa: “Though we are struggling to keep our children at school, lack of teachers has proved to be a burden as we are faced with the responsibility of paying for relief teachers.”
A retired education officer from Bamba, John Yaa, says the transition rate from Standard One to another in the area is less that 50 per cent pointing out that the push by the governments and like minded individuals to have all children enroll in schools is frustrated by cases of early marriages in the area.
“Most of the parents are yet to take time and discuss sex issues with their children. Though girls are now taken to school due to pressure from the provincial administrators, cases of pregnancies and early marriages are still rampant in the county forcing many to drop out of school. There is a problem also of some parents not taking education of the girl-child seriously and prefer to take boys to school,” said Mr Yaa.