Education in East Pokot
East Pokot faces serious education issues caused by forced marriages, female genital mutilation, forced labor, violent cattle raiding, and malnutrition due to drought and food scarcity. Education is foundational in the development and empowerment of this area, yet most families cannot financially support their children to school. Most people in East Pokot are illiterate, which adds to the difficulties when it comes to development and addressing basic needs. A recent study ranks East Pokot as having the lowest literacy rates in East Africa estimated at 85-95%. For those who pursue education, most are unable to complete high school education due to poverty and lack of financial means. In addition, many primary schools in East Pokot are severely under resourced and under staffed.
The students who attend these schools face many challenges as they try to stay in school, pass their examinations, and eventually make it to secondary school. The dropout rates in the area are very high due to poverty related issues, family migration, early marriage, and child labor. Education in the area is at a standstill with most schools closed due to insecurity. This adds to a large drop out of students with most teachers abandoning their schools in search of tranquil settings.
Education Challenges in East Pokot
- Low rate of school attendance and high absenteeism
- Poor transition from primary school to secondary and tertiary educational levels
- Fewer girls than boys attending schools
4.Under-staffed and under resourced schools
5.Poor educational infrastructure e.g. classroom, water tanks, staffrooms, etc.
6.Poor national examination results in primary and secondary schools
Possible causes of these problems
Forced labor is high in East Pokot due to food scarcity and poverty. According to the 2009 population census, East Pokot population was 63, 649 (21,931 female and 41,718 male). The population growth rate of East Pokot is 2.65% with 64-74% of the population living below the poverty line. Due to poverty, boys in East Pokot are forced to work and earn money in order to provide for their families. And as such, they lack the time to attend school which result in the lack of interest in education and absenteeism.
Forced marriages have also eroded education potential in the region. Girls are often married off when they are young due to cultural beliefs, which puts a stop to their education. Early marriages have interfered with education with young girls being given the responsibility of caring for their new families, minimizing the focus on books.
Food insecurity has also contributed to education adversities in East Pokot region. It has led to malnutrition causing health challenges to both students and teachers. This has made it difficult for students to continue studying and for the teachers to continue teaching.
Lack of qualified teachers
The climatic condition of this region coupled with high level of poverty, has made it difficult for the region to attract qualified teachers from other regions. And as such, the quality of education acquired by the students is very low, limiting the capacity for them to continue with their higher education.
Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is another factor that has interfered with education in East Pokot. People in the region have embraced this practice and are hesitant to abolish it. In many instances, Female Genital Mutilation has contributed to a stop in education among girls since it is an indication that they are ready for marriage.
East Pokot experiences high rates of school dropouts due to migration caused by pastoralism. Normally, the people in the region often migrate to greener pastures during dry season in search of food and water. This has made it difficult for both students and teachers to attend school.
Possible Innovative Solutions
Introduce a saving mechanism for families with children of school-going age. Watoto Wetu Watasoma initiative will entail partnering with a banking institution where parents can commit to saving equivalent to one goat quarterly for their children to go to school. Those who engage in this practice will be guaranteed financial boost to fill up the rest of the money to cover for shopping, school fees and any other educational materials. (room for improvement and expansion of this idea after consultation)
Developing a mobile school initiative where a school is mobile, moving from one village to another targeting children who have never been to school or who have dropped out. This will increase awareness of the importance of education. Due to resource scarcity this initiative can start with bodaboda (School on BodaBoda Initiative) where teachers move to targeted areas to teach young children to advance their educational skills. It can then advance to Bus-based school that will cover more children and more inaccessible areas.
Mentoring programs. Introducing the concept where volunteers from Nairobi travel to Pokot to offer advice and mentorship to primary and secondary school children in East Pokot schools. This will increase their mindset to see the potential they have in future.
Supply of educational resources, sanitary pads, textbooks, pencils, pens, writing materials, etc.
Advocating for an increase in the number of teachers. Engaging with the government officials to allocate teachers to schools in East Pokot that have inadequacy.
Construction of structures e.g. classrooms, staffrooms, toilets, etc.
Scholarship opportunities for children from poor families who cannot afford to finish their education. We can start an initiative to fundraise for this course using online fundraising platforms, Kenya Rotary Clubs, etc.
Introducing e-learning systems to all schools in East Pokot that will allow students have access to thousands of learning materials that they lack at the moment.
Bluemoon programs, e.g. hiring tutors during national examination periods, STEM training for teachers, girl-child counseling, etc.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it covers some of the most important projects that HAO can commit to implementing and making priority in the next three years. It will give focus to the opportunities that we can apply for and plans for expansion in the Education Program Area.