West Pokot County is grappling with a low transition rate of pupils joining secondary schools. Close to 20% of learners who join primary schools do not move to secondary schools due to early forced marriages, teenage pregnancies and female genital mutilation cases.
The County still has the highest school dropout rate and has continually recorded a low transition rate for girls. Last year the County recorded a transition rate of 83% from primary schools to secondary schools.
County Commissioner Apollo Okello pointed out that a lack of interest, pregnancies, early marriages, hidden costs at school and family responsibilities have driven thousands out of school. “But the government is offering free primary and secondary education aimed at reducing the number of school drop-outs. We need to find out where the rest of the children went. We should find ways of retaining all enrolled children from primary to secondary schools, especially the girl-child,” he said.
Speaking in Kapenguria, the County commissioner said that children don’t enroll in schools, contributing to the high illiteracy levels.
Apollo said keeping children in school, especially girls, beyond primary school level, would reduce the high teenage pregnancies, “FGM is still commonly practiced in this community and most of the girls who undergo this vice end up getting pregnant because the girls are perceived to have entered maturity and the parents have no control of what they do,” he said.
He said retrogressive practices are the main deterrents keeping girls from proceeding with their education. He further urged parents to take advantage of the free education program and help bring to fruition the government’s targeted 100% transition from primary schools to secondary schools. “Parents are only required to take their children to school as the government meets most of the costs including paying teachers’ salaries, buying books, providing stationary, school maintenance and sports equipment.”