At Mkokoni Primary School in Kwale County, a little boy crawls across the classroom, letting out a playful squeal. Another child, who is barely two years, scurries past a teacher who is educating a group of girls on the tenets of English language. The girls repeat what the teacher is saying in unison. Some of them have babies latched on their breasts and eyes focused on the blackboard. Occasionally, the children join in the repetition and their voices merge to become a confused choir their teacher Mwinyihaji Tenga has gotten used to.
“They do not have anyone to baby sit for them. If you tell them to come without their children, nobody will come,” says Tenga. Their lessons are unique. They take place in an extra classroom set aside by Girls Advocacy Alliance in collaboration with the school for mothers who fell off the cracks by getting pregnant when they were barely 15. They come with babies strapped on the backs and tins of porridge in bags. For break, unlike their age mates who run out to play, the teenagers step out to breast feed their babies and play with them before resuming lessons.