EDITORIAL: Return dropouts to school


The start of the new school calendar year a few days ago is a good indicator that the Kenyan population is resilient even in the midst of the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

It happened after the end of the longest calendar that saw the learners stay at home to combat the effects of the pandemic.

But in the midst of this, reports that close to 300,000 learners cannot be accounted for and that they did not return to school is alarming.

This information should unsettle the authorities and make them use every system and strategy at their disposal so that these learners are sought and urged to get back to school.

For sure, primary and secondary education is compulsory.

It is possible that staying at home for close to nine months made these learners lose hope.

They probably settled to doing other activities and engagements including looking for income earning activities to keep them busy and even supplement that which parents are putting on the table.

In places where natural resources are mined for income, children are usually attracted to quick money and end up being trapped in these labor-intensive activities.

Once they are in it fully, they never intend to quit school, for they are earning and can put food on the table, at least.

The pandemic also made others think that there would be no school again; no more chance to normalize the academic calendar, hence the lost hope.

These numbers are huge and exceptionally unacceptable to stay at home while their peers are in school learning, making progress in knowledge, gaining and making their tomorrow better.

With the government having allocated resources for them through free primary and secondary education and employed teachers to educate them, there is a need for another step to be taken so that these learners are sought and brought back to school.

In the banditry hit north rift, there is every reason for learners to stay at home and never dream of going back to school.

How bandits are ravaging the region until some schools had to be closed should give the government sleepless nights as they seek them, eliminate their roots and disrupt their mission so that normalcy is restored.

By doing so, schools may resume without fear, and those children who may have wandered to cattle rustling would be brought back and get education.

There is also hunger ravaging families.

Learners can’t go to school hungry and none can settle to learn on an empty stomach.

It would be necessary to have the school feeding programme arranged for in targeted regions.

There can also be incentives like provision of uniforms for needy ones so that their need is catered for.

Some parents may be too poor to put food on the table, leave alone the provision of clothing.

Lack of school uniform may hinder others from going back to school.

Some of these items can be sought and provided by structured systems and well-wishers through lobbying and by agencies.

All these are meant to make the thousands of learners who are missing school get back and join the rest of the learners.

But again, in some regions where there has been good reporting back to school, there is a strain on resources.

Children are sharing desks in congested classrooms which pauses questions on the safety of the learners in the middle of the pandemic.

This may be a hindrance on the road to recording success in the uptake of learners.

Equally, teachers’ unions have been lamenting on the need to work on the learner-teacher ratio to improve and reduce the strains that teachers go through as they impart knowledge.

The Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) needs more engagement between the teacher and the learner hence the need to have as many teachers attending to the needs of these learners as possible.

The government can do better in this aspect by allocating as much resources as possible to construct classes for learners.

For the future, sometimes due to unavailable land space for constructing classes, it would be prudent to think of storey buildings because there is plenty of space up.

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