18th May, 2022, Nairobi Kenya: GESCI joined other civil society organisations under the Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI) network in marking the 2022 International Day of the African Child.
To mark this day whose theme is ‘eliminating harmful practices affecting children” GESCI, Kakenya’s Dream, Zizi Afrique and Population Council co-organised a 3-day learning trip with child-led conversations with school going children in Transmara,Narok County.
The main objective was to learn through child-led conversations with women, men, and youth about life skills and culture
The RELI Network was represented by Zizi Afrique, EducAfrica foundation,population Council, Lwala Community Aliance, Usawa Agenda, Dupoto eMaa, GESCI and Kakenya’s Dream.
During the workshops, the Values and Life Skills (VaLi) thematic group discussed the harmful practices the children in this region are subjected and what competencies measured by the Assessment of Values and life Skills in East Africa (ALiVE) initiative are key to ensure the children can handle the challenges.problem solving and self awareness were considered very key in these scenarios.
The children led conversations on matters affecting them.Challenges mentioned included : Early circumcision for boys, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early marriages due to poverty, child labour, lack of school fees,Lack of parental commitment,stigmatisation and gender imbalance.
They went on to suggest practical solutions they feel will help all the children stay in school and access quality education as follows:
Circumcision for boys should be done at appropriate ages-after completion of secondary school so that we do have cases of primary school boys dropping out of school because they are considered ‘men’ after circumcision.
Take action on FGM- the children suggested that partners, teachers and the government should be keen on punishing parents who subject their young girls to this practice.
Parents should promote Gender Equality- They children suggested that the parents should stop burdening the girls with house chores while encouraging the boys to carry on with their homework.
Enlighten the parents- they said that parents should be made aware of the benefits of an educated child who will get you more riches that you would get by marrying them off early.
The local administrative should have rules governing night gatherings in churches – they indicated that these gatherings contribute to teenage pregnancies and there should be regulations.
It is key to note that there is need for active parental involvement in their children’s lives ensuring they do not overdemand from them, they provide basic needs for them and allow them equal access to education.
Development partners are encouraged to carry out awareness campaigns in affected regions, letting parents know the importance of education and protecting children.
The three-day learning event was concluded by a celebration with learners from primary and secondary schools, government officials, parents, teachers and stakeholders in education.. The main event was presided over by the Deputy Chief Justice – Lady Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu.
In her keynote speech, the Deputy Chief Justice told the fathers who were marrying off their daughters for 11 cows with a solution which was to educate that daughter and she would buy him 1000 cows and do much more when she is educated.She said this while reacting to the presentations made by children on the challenges they face.
She went on to tell parents to allow children to be children and not poison their minds with bad advise. She concluded by saying the judiciary is committed to protecting the children of our nation from the harmful practices and forge a nation where our children can be children and thrive in their own creative ways.
Kakenya’s Dream, a member of the RELI network is carrying out initiatives in the county ensuring girls stay in school and they have established a primary school for girls and a secondary schools for girls as well which started in 2018.
GESCI continues to work with partners and government to push the gender equality, quality education and update of evidence agendas. Through the Adapting assessment into policy and learning (ADAPT) initiative, we will support the utilisation of data from ALiVE assessments in education policy making and practice.