Alarm As Thousands Of Learners Drop Out Of School Each Year In Bungoma County

By The Weekly Vision

Bungoma deputy governor Jenipher Mbatiany has said that between 2022- 2023, 15, 680 learners dropped out of school in Bungoma County. She said the numbers have raised concerns among the community, the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders. She spoke last week at Kanduyi DEB during the International Day against child labour.

The deputy governor put on notice those behind the exploitation of children who are expected to be in school by exporting them to neighbouring Uganda and other places to do house jobs, herding cattle and tilling pieces of land. “As a county we annoyed with the report we received from the ministry of education indicating that 15,680 learners dropped out of school,” Mbatiany said, adding that the proximity of Bungoma to the porous Malaba border also contributes greatly to child trafficking. She added, “Please parents be careful with your children don’t let them drop out of school they are our future generation,”

 Mbatiany attributed the high number of school dropouts to the high poverty index in Bungoma adding that the county has put strategies in place to avert school dropouts. To ensure that learners in the county are in school, Mbatiany told The Weekly Vision that the County government of Bungoma has started the ‘Fuga kuku’ initiative in the wards as a way of ensuring that parents raise funds to help pay their learners’ fees with ease.

“Governor Lusaka and I will move around all the 45 wards to ask locals to start rearing chicken as a way of sourcing resources that can be used to pay for the learners fees in schools to avoid dropouts,” she said. However, she affirmed that the County established a Chwele Chicken slaughter to offer a ready market to those who will rear chickens. “The market won’t be hard for the poultry farmers after your birds are ready, just take them to Chwele slaughter and earn money,” she assured. In addition, Mbatiany added that soon the county government will roll out trade loans and women’s funds where traders will be required to apply for the funds to boost their business. “Trade loans are revolving funds, after you have taken and benefited remember to return to benefit another person,” she added.

She also said that this year the Bungoma County government distributed free seeds and fertilizers to the vulnerable farmers in Bungoma with the sole aim of ensuring that there is food security. “When there is enough food, children will also stay in school,” she said, adding that the county government is scheduled to distribute dairy cows to women groups in Bungoma.

Grace Banya, head of the regional project, International Labour Organization (ILO) told the weekly vision that her organization chose Bungoma because it is a border County and there is massive exportation of school children to Uganda to herd cattle, housing jobs, hawk items and till land. “There is a possibility that children and even adults are trafficked to Uganda,” Banya added. She added that ILO started a similar project in Uganda to create awareness in the community on the importance of educating children.

To address the child dropouts in the western region, Banya said that ILO has worked with different organizations in Bungoma to create a child protection policy which is near completion. “I appreciate that we have worked closely in Bungoma to draft the child protection policy that is near completion. Let us continue supporting and fighting for child protection,” she said. She added, “Boarders are major channels where children can be trafficked to Uganda and vice versa,” She noted that ILO is working with the immigration and reinforcement officers at the border to ensure that child trafficking is brought to zero. To address the inadequate food in schools, she said that ILO is working with the World Food Program to distribute food to schools and establish school gardens.

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