Education ministry will start counting missing learners and tracking them down for 100 days as soon as schools reopen on January 4.
The aim is to ensure all school-going children are back in school. Pregnant girls and mothers will be helped to return.
Many children are expected to be gone – some because they are married, pregnant, nursing or just dropped out.
Some parents have been unable to pay for school fees and supplies. Some parents say it is still not safe as the Covid-19 pandemic has not been contained. Some children are already working.
Schools have been closed since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Education CAS Zack Kinuthia said the count will capture actual data on missing girls and boys.
Speaking at NEP Girls High School on Monday, the CAS appealed to parents and guardians whose children are not in school to cooperate with authorities so all information can be gathered.
He was inspecting schools’ Covid-19 safety preparations and checking on the progress of delivery of desks by local artisans.
The count will be carried out by Education ministry officials and national government administrators. It aims to ensure as many children as possible are in school. Plans can be made to help dropouts return.
Kinuthia said girls who became mothers or got pregnant will be allowed to continue with their education, regardless of their condition.
“I am calling on every Garissa county parent and guardian with a school-going child – from kindergarten to tertiary level – to prepare their children for schools reopening on January 4,” he said.
“There is no reason whatsoever why we will not reopen.”
Parents have been divided on the January reopening and many say the Covid-19 pandemic has not been contained and attendance is dangerous.
“As the government, we reiterate that no child will be discriminated against because of pregnancy or maternity,” Kinuthia said. “All children are equal, whatever their situation. Education is every child’s right.”
The CAS also expressed concern over the slow rate at which desks were being delivered by artisans. He said Northeastern was trailing in deliveries at 16 per cent, compared to the national average of 46 per cent.
“We are happy other carpenters have delivered while others continue to construct. The bottom line is that we want desks to be in schools on January 4 when all our children will be there,” he said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has warned parents against failing to comply with the January 4 schools’ reopening.
Speaking on December 12 during Jamhuri Day, he directed the Ministry of Interior to enforce the back-to-school directive.
To guarantee that no child is left behind, all chiefs were ordered to account for all children in their jurisdictions.
“I direct the Ministry of Education to receive reports from all primary and secondary schools, regardless of the system of education, [and present] details of any child or children who have not reported back to school as directed,” the President said.
He also ordered the Education ministry to publicise the education policy on school reentry to facilitate readmission later of those who are pregnant or new mothers.