Leaders in West Pokot County have challenged the government to speed up the process of reopening of schools in a bid to curb the rising teenage pregnancies, female genital mutilation cases and early forced marriages.
They said that the vices are alarming in the County where the prevalence rate of teenage pregnancies stands at 29% more than the national figure of 18% while FGM stands at 74%, more than the national figure of 21%.
Speaking in his constituency, Sigor Member of Parliament Peter Lochakapong said that the vices are a big challenge to the girl child.
“We want the tasked committee and ministry of education to move with speed to make sure schools are reopened to avert the occurrence of the retrogressive practices which have negatively impacted the girl child,” he said.
Abel Lokwete, an opinion leader, called on the government, agencies and NGOs tasked in fighting the vices to join hands and put an end to the vices, “The recent report on teenage pregnancies is alarming. We have some bodies disputing that, but the number could be real or slightly low,” he said.
He said that many young girls who are at home are at risk of getting pregnant or being married off or circumcised. “It is evident that teachers have been doing a commendable job. The Government should realize the importance of teachers.”
Lokwete called on the local administration to embrace a bottom up approach in fighting the vices. “We should start from the Nyumba Kumi to the County commissioner,” he said.
Jeffery Kibet, a youth leader in the County, took issue with Education CS Prof. George Magoha for saying the figures on teenage pregnancies were abnormal noting that they are the ones going to the grassroots and they understand the situation better.
Kibet also raised concern with easy internet access for children, urging the government to restrict the same to older people. “There are pornographic films which our children are watching,” he said, “Plus you can’t deny a child a phone because he or she might go to the cyber cafe to access the internet or borrow a phone from a friend.”