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From exam room to delivery room: teen pregnancies during KCPE, KCSE exam

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The country is facing a crisis if this is an all-year-round phenomenon.

These were the words of Education CS Amina Mohamed while reacting to reports that more than 30 KCPE candidates had given birth in the course of the three-day exam.

And true to her words, the number was higher than imagined.

More than 100 pregnant girls sat the exam in Kilifi county alone.

Reported cases of births were many, but this report examines the few that made headlines due to their peculiar nature.

Some of the candidates gave birth in school, others on their way to school while others in health facilities.

Overall, an estimated 200 girls gave birth in the course of the 2018 KCPE and KCSE exams, putting to question the country’s societal norms and the quality of parenting.

 

KCPE

Among the first births to be reported occurred at Misuuni Primary School in Mbitini Ward, Kitui Rural constituency, Kitui county.

The girl gave birth as she sat for the English language paper at her school.

She developed labour pains in the exam room and was assisted by the head teacher, Naomi Mbaki, and KCPE officials.

She gave birth to a girl.

She later wrote her English composition paper at a health facility as her baby lay in the hospital’s women wing.

A similar scenario played out at Voroni Primary School in Kwale County after a candidate gave birth on the first day of the exam.

She developed labour pains moments before the Mathematics paper and was rushed to Kwale Hospital where she delivered and sat the exam.

This was the first such case to be reported in the county.

“We are happy that the girl delivered without any complications,” a source at the hospital said.

On October 31, the second day of the exam reported more child births at school at the coast.

They include one at Longo Primary who delivered a boy at Mrima Hospital in Likoni and one at Tswaka Primary in Lunga Lunga.

Two other births were reported at Milalani and Ndio Hivyo primary schools in Kinango and Msambweni in Kwale county.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, one candidate did her exams at the AIC Kapsowar Mission Hospital’s maternity ward after she had her baby.

Elsewhere in Nyakach, a 14-year-old girl from St Alloys Primary School gave birth at Katito Health Centre after she developed labour pains a few minutes before the exams started.

On the last day of the exams, Kitui County was in the news again after an 18-year old candidate at Makongo Primary School gave birth to a boy on November 1.

In all incidents, candidates were allowed to proceed with their exams, either in class or hospital.

However, in Narok East, 31 pupils from different schools opted not to sit the papers as they dropped out due to pregnancy.

 

Kilifi County bears brunt

At least 270 primary school girls were reported pregnant in Kilifi over the period the exams got underway.

Latest statistics from the County Children’s Department at the time indicated that over 13,000 girls aged between 15 and 19 were expectant in the county.

A report by the county children’s officer George Migosi said Kilifi North recorded the highest pregnancies out of the county’s seven constituencies.

It had 3,134 pregnancies, followed by Magarini with 2,861 cases, Kaloleni (2,180), while Malindi and Kilifi South had 1,771 cases each.

Ganze registered 1,362 cases while Rabai had 545 cases.

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The cases were blamed on high rates of poverty, illiteracy and defilement.

A report by Plan International in 2016 said the adolescents often had their first sexual encounter during disco matanga – dances held at night during funeral ceremonies.

The discos have not been completely wiped out despite a ban by the county government, but a positive response has been recorded.

A section of residents criticised the ban saying the root cause of teenage pregnancies is poor upbringing and negligence by parents.

 

KCSE

In KCSE, Kitui county took the lead in registering the highest number of candidates that gave birth during exams.

By November 8, just two days after the exams kicked off, 41 candidates had already given birth while 72 others were still pregnant.

Read: KCSE pregnancies; 72 expectant, 38 new mums

Kitui County Education Officer Salesa Adano said what was more puzzling was that no parent appeared concerned over the unusual phenomenon.

“No parent has raised a red flag. No parent has said ‘look, something is happening with my daughter’. Not a single chief has raised, not a single community member,” Adano said.

The education officer said it was not possible for the department to establish who was responsible for the pregnancies noting that it could be anybody – young boys, adults, or senior people.

He said his department had grown nervous, not knowing what to do with the number of teenage pregnancies within the county.

Around the same time, 20 other candidates were reported to have give birth while sitting exams in Bomet county.

Education stakeholders in the county came under the spotlight especially after it emerged that 13 of the cases were reported at the same school – St Monica Secondary School.

More than 30 KCSE candidates were also reported to be pregnant in Narok county over that period.

Given the alarming rate of pregnancies, two parents whose children fell pregnant and an independent candidate moved to court to compel the examination council to set up supplementary examination for students who fall pregnant.

They wanted candidates who give birth within one and three months of sitting national exams to be allowed to do supplementary exams.

“If the court does find that the petition is merited the supplementary examination be administered at least three months after the last date of Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations” they stated in the petition.

 

Course of action 

On November 1, the final day of the KCSE exam, education officials sounded a warning against men who impregnate schoolgirls.

“We will arrest even if it is parents and guardians who might be behind these pregnancies that are against the children’s act,” PS Belio Kipsang said at Nyamachaki Primary School in Nyeri county.

Speaking in Nairobi on the same day, Amina said the ministry will go after abusers to make sure that they provide support for these babies.

“If we don’t find the culprits, we must come together as a society to do exactly that,” she said at the Lang’ata women prison.

“Let the quality assurance and standards department work with relevant departments to investigate the cases and give me a report for further action,” she added.

Knec chairman George Magoha on his part urged the ICT ministry to consider shutting down all porn sites which he blamed for the rise in teen pregnancies in the country.

ICT CS Joe Mucheru later said it’s a proposal the ministry is considering implementing.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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