Despite having defied hard-hitting circumstances precipitated by Covid-19 to finish their primary school education, tens of children from Nyacaba village in Juja, Kiambu County are unlikely to join their peers in form one, a month after studies began.
Sharon Owili who studied at Kuraiha Primary and Terry Kawira studied at Nyacaba Primary have dim hopes of joining secondary schools of choice as their impoverished parents cannot even afford enough meals for them.
Eager as they are to join their peers, the bright students have resorted to crashing ballasts at various quarries to help their parents eke out a living.
On a good day, either of the children makes between Ksh 50 to Ksh 100 for crashing one bucket of ballast, money they said goes towards supporting their parents pay rent, buying food and at some point, clothing.
“I was called to join Kirinyaga Girls but my mum has not even paid rent for two months. I have been helping her meet our basic needs by working at quarries,” Kawira stated.
Jane Murugi, the mother of Kawira said she has tried all avenues to have her daughter in school in futility.
She singled out having sought help from local leaders including chiefs and politicians and applied for a bursary but none of her quests was productive.
“We have no money to even buy school uniforms. We make a maximum of Ksh 100 in a day which we use to buy food which is of major priority and we use the remaining coins to save for rent. We have lost hope and her spirit continues to weaken,” she said.
Murugi said most of the schools she has visited have been demanding between Ksh10,000 to Ksh15,000 for their children to be admitted, money they said they cannot raise owing to their poverty.
Millicent Akinyi whose daughter has also been roaming around for lack of school fees urged the government to make prompt interventions to help their children join secondary schools to prevent them from having early pregnancies and abuse of outlawed substances.
In the village whose main economic activity is mining of quarry products, a boy who scored 331 marks but failed to join secondary school was rescued as he threatened to commit suicide.
The bright boy regretted that his aspirations of eliminating poverty in their family by working hard in his studies had diminished.
“I can only help my mum finish her quarry jobs for now. It’s sad that my dream of going up to university, finding a good job and helping my mum out of poverty is almost dying,” the boy said.
Despite education Cabinet Secretary Goerge Magoha warning that parents who fail to take their children to school risk arrest, the Nyacaba parents said they no longer fear being imprisoned as they desire to have them in schools but financial constraints do not allow it.
This is happening even as the Ministry of Education maintains that no students should be denied admission even as the government struggles to ensure that its 100 per cent transition program from primary to secondary schools is achieved.