BY PETER KOMBE
Parents still holding their children at home have been warned of dire consequences if they failed to take them to public pre-primary, primary or secondary schools as directed by the government.
The Mombasa County commissioner Evans Achoki vowed to implement the directive to the letter saying those parents still dillydallying would face the full force of the law when caught.
Saying education is a fundamental right to every Kenyan child, the commissioner told parents to familiarise themselves with the Bill of Rights of the Constitution before they got into trouble with the law enforcers.
Mr Achoki, speaking during the Day of the African Child at the Treasury Square, blamed parents that were using ‘lame excuses’ to deny their children education in the pretext of being poor.
“As custodians of your children, we will hold you responsible when they find school-going children at your homesteads and as the government we will not sit back but act decisively according to the law,” he said.
The commissioner added that they were working closely with different stakeholders to ensure that children from all walks of life access better education as envisaged by the government.
According to him the government is committed to the universal education as prescribed by the international agencies that is why it would go at any length to ensure each child gets the free primary and secondary education in the country.
Changamwe MP Omar Mwinyi told parents to invest in education saying that would the perfect gift to their children who would later in their lives use for their livelihoods.
As a political leader, he promised to work with other stakeholders dealing with children’s affairs to address pertinent issues affecting their wellbeing at home and school within the county.
“There is urgent need to work together for the welfare of our children so that they can get the best out of the education sector which is crucial for the future development of this country,” he added.
The legislator noted that there is need for the county government to recruit qualified early childhood education (ECD) teachers.
On parental care, Mr Mwinyi blamed the male family members for abandoning their social responsibilities and leaving their female counterparts to take charge of their children.
“No matter how busy you are, you must spare time to know the progress of your children in whatever level of their schooling. The immediate teachers of the child are their parents,” he said.
He warned that if parents abdicate their roles then their children would lack moral support and would end up relying on their ‘peer teachers’.
On whether alcohol is illegal or not, the MP asked the national government to come clean on the issue saying it was currently difficult to ascertain that based on frequent police swoops on drinking dens.
“The government should explain the legality of alcohol consumption based on the specifications of manufacturing so that people do not indulge in illegalities of the same,” he said.
Mombasa County children coordinator Philip Nzenge urged parents to prioritize their requirements and ensure their children receive all their primary basic needs as enshrined in the existing laws.
He called on joint approach in dealing with children’s challenges saying this way they would be able to address some of the teething problems being witnessed in the county.
“Juvenile delinquency is taking root in the County and we must strategise on what to do to arrest it otherwise it is a time-bomb waiting to explode,” he warned.
A Coast Mediation Centre lawyer Shillah Mugambi said children are the core factor of families and they should be given all their rights as prescribed in different laws of the land.
To stem out juvenile delinquencies, she suggested the use of alternative dispute resolution strategies by parents and teachers as a way of bridging the gap between the children and them.
According to her through the mediation process families and schools can resolve many indiscipline cases that arise in different situations without being seen to be overbearing.
“Children are a key pillar in the family and should be given a listening to understand their behavioural aspects so that they could be meted a just hearing and judgment,” she said.
Richard Amwai, a student at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Changamwe Sub County, explained that the transfer of Kibarani dumpsite to Mwakirunge was not a solution to the negative impact of solid waste.
He petitioned the County government to find a lasting solution to waste management through recycling processing plants to rid the region of solid waste.
“Transferring Kibarani to Mwakirunge is only transferring waste management problem to another location without any tangible solution to manage the same,” he said.
According to him the problem would worsen because the entire Mwakirunge area would bear the brunt of solid waste that was not processed to alleviate any land, sea and air pollution.
This, he added, would expose children and the youth to domestic, industrial and institutional waste pollution that could adversely affect their health wellbeing.
The theme of this year Day of African child is Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First.