Kenya: Return-to-School Policy Not Benefitting Poor Teen Mothers

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Poverty thwarts teen mothers from benefiting from return-to-school policy, a government official said last week.

Social Sector, Policy and Strategy Unit at the Office of the President, director, Ms Elizabeth Mueni, said adolescent mothers from low-income homes could need more support to resume studies after delivery.

“If you’re in a slum, you have to work because there is nobody to take care of the child,” she said while referring to the teen mothers.

“We should do a strategic impact analysis of a policy because there are people that will need you to do other things to ensure they benefit from other policy,” she added.

Mercy Corps Kenya Country, director, Yohannes Wolday, said the three-year project implemented among pastoral communities in Kenya and Uganda alongside urban community in Haiti, could benefit 70,000 boys and girls aged 10 to 24 years.

In Kenya alone, 26,000 girls and boys in Marsabit, Wajir, Turkana and Garissa will gain from the initiative that seeks to improve girls’ life skills and financial literacy.

“Empowerment of girls leads to a transformed society,” Mr Wolday said.

But for the girls to be fully empowered, parents and teachers have to be actively involved in their lives, according to Alternatives Africa Executive Director Waithera Gaitho

“Girls cannot succeed in the market place without the support of their parents and teachers,” she said.

Ms Gaitho said through consistent affirmation, parents and teachers help girls gain confidence and develop self-esteem, attributes that are key to living a fulfilling life.

Technology option

“It’s almost impossible to succeed in the market place without confidence and self-esteem,” she noted.

She said, it is complicated to transform a woman who grew up in a hostile and condescending environment.

“If you grow up being told that you are good at getting a husband and then later as an adult you are told you can be economically empowered, how do you believe that?” she posed.

eMentoring Africa Chief Executive Officer, Ms Esther Wagaki, vouched for peer learning through which girls share their experiences and help each other broaden their knowledge and build life skills.

She identified technology options such as videos as means of up-skilling girls in remote areas.

“Involve the parents to appreciate the value of technology in up-skilling girls,” she said.

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